Sunday, 27 April 2008

Solar power, weeds and algae to fuel armed forces of future

Britain's armed forces could acquire a new tinge of green under plans to end the military dependency on fossil fuels.

Possible innovations include unmanned attack aircraft powered by the sun. They would fire missiles fuelled with hydrogen produced by feeding algae to microbes.

Tanks could be electrically powered or run on fuel produced from oil squeezed out of weeds so hardy they can grow in the desert.

Ships could run completely on electricity produced from generators powered by synthetic fuels made from grass.

The environmental requirements of the army, navy and air force will be presented this week to specially vetted defence and research companies.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said last week that many of the ideas would come to fruition only in the next generation. The US Air Force, however, is expected to start converting its aircraft to use a mix of synthetic and petroleum-based fuel by the end of 2010 and the RAF is likely to follow suit.

The Royal Navy’s new Type45 destroyers already use all-electric propulsion, albeit produced by gas generators, and greener ways of producing the electricity are being explored in conjunction with the French.

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