WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Defense (DOD) is asking companies to submit proposals for supplying 200 million gallons of alternative or synthetic fuel in anticipation of major field tests of vehicles and vessels by the Air Force and Navy in 2008 and 2009, according to the Web site www.InsideDefense.com/. The field tests are part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to reduce its dependence on foreign oil with cleaner-burning fuels that would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The request was issued by the Defense Logistic Agency’s Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), which oversees the Pentagon’s fuel purchases, to test the military’s interest in a technology known as “Fischer-Tropsch,” which converts coal or natural gas into liquid fuel. The notice is intended to prompt information submissions on potential uses and will not lead to an immediately binding contract, a DESC source says. However, the request could have a major impact on the alternative fuels market if the military decides to move forward following the tests because the Pentagon is the single largest buyer of jet fuel in the country. Under the possible purchase, the Air Force and Navy would each receive 100 million gallons of alternative fuels for testing on ships, airplanes, and other operational units, according to a DESC source. Those fuels would likely be blended with existing DOD fuel types, such as the Air Force’s JP-8 and the Navy’s F-76, in a 50/50 mixture or similar ratio, according to the source. “There won’t be enough alternative fuels to do a 100-percent [alternative] blend for at least a decade,” the source said, “but even reducing petroleum 50 percent in this country is huge. What DESC is saying is we don’t want [carbon dioxide] greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.” According to the report, the source said each of the military services wants to maintain its current single-fuel policy, under which all vehicles are run with as similar a fuel type as possible. DOD officials want to use 50/50 blends “widely” for the service tests at first, with an eye to potentially retooling the ratio for optimum efficiency later on.