When I first came to NAVSEA, I didn’t expect to be researching alternative fuels, but it’s been an interesting and challenging project, says Richard Leung, the Fuels Engineering Manager at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC. Together with his colleague Greg Toms, Richard works in NAVSEA's Engineering Directorate, supporting the Navy’s alternative fuel effort.
In 2009, the Secretary of the Navy announced his energy goals: to demonstrate a Green Strike Group by 2012; to deploy the "Great Green Fleet" in 2016; and to obtain 50 percent of the Fleet's liquid fuel from alternative sources by 2020. Richard and Tom contribute to this initiative by leading a number of tests to qualify alternative fuels for maritime vessel use.
They work with many sources of potential fuel, such as algae, camelina and other plants – but there are many factors to consider, which makes their role so critical. The final product cannot require changing existing equipment, systems or the supporting supply infrastructure. "With the wide variety and ages of existing engines across the Fleet," Richard says, "our challenge has been to develop a standardized qualification process that ensures alternative fuels meet existing requirements."
However, it is a necessary and critical part of the Department of the Navy’s mission, and Richard and Greg work every day to fulfill that mission. In Greg’s words, "I like knowing that the work we do today is helping the Navy ensure energy security for the coming years."