Syntroleum Sees Synthetic Fuels Playing Key Role Army SmarTruck

Company urges use of synthetic fuels as means for new US Army SmarTruck to meet its goals.

Published: 06-Mar-2001

DETROIT, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- "The goals of the 21st Century Truck Program become more achievable when synthetic fuels are used in lieu of conventional fuels," stated Syntroleum (Nasdaq: SYNM) President Mark Agee, who was on hand with other industry partners and public officials invited to participate as the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center unveiled its SmarTruck at the Society of Automotive Engineers' International World Congress and Exposition.

The SmarTruck was developed by the United States Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), under the federal 21st Century Truck Initiative. Program partners in the Initiative, which was announced last year, include the Army, the US Departments of Energy and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US trucking industry. For the past two years, Syntroleum has been providing synthetic fuels to a number of military, automobile manufacturers and fuel cell company testing programs for the purpose of demonstrating the benefits of synthetic fuels and their ability to operate across multiple power train technologies. Some of these tests were a precursor to the 21st Century Truck program initiatives.

The 10-year goal of the 21st Century Truck program is to develop technologies that will increase fuel economy and safety in four specific classes of commercial trucks and buses, leading to production prototypes that:

    * Triple the fuel economy of heavy pickups, large delivery vans and
      full-sized passenger buses;
    * Double fuel economy for 18-wheeler long-haul trucks;
    * Improve safety;
    * Achieve superior operational performance and lower costs for truckers;
      and
    * Exceed expected emission requirements for 2010 by making major
      reductions in NOx, particulates and other local air pollutants.

Priorities for the program include development of advanced propulsion technology, with focus on advanced diesel engine, hybrid electric, fuel cell and advanced drive trains, and clean burning fuels that are adaptable to the full range of propulsion sources.

Because synthetic fuels are virtually free of sulfur, aromatics and metals, they inherently reduce harmful emissions. They also enable exhaust after treatment devices that can reduce emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides (NOx and SOx) and particulates, to the target levels anticipated for 2010 regulations. The high hydrogen density of synthetic fuels also makes them useful for fuel cell systems. The ability to use the same fuel in internal combustion engines as well as fuel cells satisfies another major objective of the 21st Century Initiative program.

Synthetic fuel's ability to be "power-train neutral" may also play an important role in military applications. The military has been investigating the possibility of standardizing a "single battlefield fuel," so that the same fuel that can be used in turbine engines of jets, tanks and helicopters, as well as in diesel engines of trucks and in fuel cell systems that are expected to be found on the battlefield of the future. The fuel must also meet military safety requirements for flammability. Recent tests on Syntroleum fuels indicate that synthetic fuels can meet all of these requirements.

As the US Army transforms itself into a lighter, more mobile force, a single battlefield fuel could play a key role for one simple reason: About 70% of the bulk tonnage needed to sustain the military during a conflict is fuel. Currently the military must move and store several types of fuels. Using a single fuel would simplify logistics and reduce total tonnage moved.

"We believe that the 21st Century Truck Program is going to have a big impact on the efficiency and competitiveness of not only the US military, but on US industry as well," stated Agee. "Over 80% of the nation's freight is moved by trucks that consume over 42 billion gallons of fuel each year. Since the 1973 oil embargo, essentially all of the increase in US highway fuel consumption has been due to trucks. So improvements in fuel economy and emissions in this vital industry will pay substantial dividends to the US economy."

Syntroleum Corporation licenses its technology to the oil and gas industry for converting natural gas into liquid synthetic fuels. Current licensees include ARCO (now BP), Enron, Ivanhoe Energy, Kerr-McGee, Marathon, Repsol-YPF, Texaco and the Commonwealth of Australia.

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