American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII)
The practice of using lightweighting in military applications can yield many benefits. The National Research Council (NRC), at the request of the Department of Defense, examined lightweighting in their report “Application of Lightweighting Technology to Military Vehicles,Vessels, and Aircraft.” The NRC identified the following advantages to lightweighting:
● Improved fuel economy that would reduce both fuel expenditures and the logistical support needed to supply fuel to forces deployed in remote and hostile locations;
● Better performance in the form of, for example, increased speed, mobility, maneuverability, range, and payload capacity;
● Better operational supportability in the form of, for example, better transportability, durability, repairability, and maintainability; and
● Improved survivability.
Each of these benefits could lead to tactical benefits for the military; however, improving fuel economy has the potential to improve environmental sustainability as well. Reducing fossil fuel consumption not only helps to preserve these finite resources, but also reduces greenhouse gas and air pollutants associated with fuel production and combustion.
Given the large size of the U.S. military the potential for fuel savings is significant. A Congressional Research Service report highlighted the dependence/relationship of DOD on energy.
● DOD is by far the largest U.S. government user of energy.
● By some accounts, DOD is the largest organizational user of petroleum in the world.
● DOD’s fuel costs have increased substantially over the last decade, to about $17 billion in FY2011.
● Petroleum-based liquid fuels are by far DOD’s largest source of energy, accounting for approximately two-thirds of DOD energy consumption.
● According to DOD, currently about 75% of DOD’s energy use is operational energy and about 25% is installation energy. Operational energy is defined in law as “the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations.”