How do rows of corn in Nebraska and Iowa help drive the joint mission here at Andrews?
Blended fuels like E85 gasoline and B20 diesel have helped move the majority of government ground vehicles here and at other installations for several years since its use was federally mandated.
Energy consumption has long been an important issue in the Air Force, and Energy Action Month serves as a platform to encourage every Airman's awareness of his or her impact on energy use through its theme, "I am Air Force Energy."
E85 is composed of 15 percent traditional gasoline sourced from oil, and 85 percent ethanol obtained from plant matter.
Similarly, B20 is 80 percent traditional diesel infused with hydrocarbons produced from vegetable matter or animal fat. Andrews exclusively uses the veggie blend, according to Fred Foster, fuels operations manager for Akima Technical Solutions, one of the contracted companies that handle fuel distribution here.
"Most military vehicles that refuel at the military gas station use E85 or B20," Foster said.
There are exceptions, like the Chevrolet Volt fleet, which require premium gasoline only, and a few diesel-powered vehicles whose manufacturers won't warranty engines run on biodiesel blended more than 10 percent, Foster said.
The renewable fuels have been around for several years, and contribute to the Air Force's position as the second largest consumer of renewable energy in the DoD.
"We definitely encourage the use of the biofuels in government vehicles whenever possible," said Gary Haskins, fuels manager for Akima. "It is easy to do, especially with E85, as any vehicle that can use it has a yellow gas cap to show it is a flex-fuel vehicle."
The advantages of these go further than reducing oil dependence. Both E85 and B20 offer higher octane and cetane ratings, respectively, which gives the engines that use them a higher quality combustion event, thus producing more horsepower and torque, said Foster.
Another bebefit is that both fuels burn cleaner as well, reducing harmful emissions and efficiency-robbing carbon buildups in engines, said Foster.
"Biodiesel actually has a higher lubricity than ultra-low sulfur diesel that is available today," said Foster. "One of the only drawbacks is that doesn't perform as well when it is stored for long periods of time, so we don't use it in generators or equipment that isn't used often."
To find out more about what the Air Force is doing to save energy, follow AFenergy on Twitter, visit the "Air Force Energy" page on Facebook.