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Little Rock Airmen fuel up to save environment, money

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rochelle Clace
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Management Flight here have been selected to test two types of aviation fuel in an effort to save money and the environment.

The first is the commercial grade Jet A. This fuel is cheaper and more common throughout the aviation industry; it's a straight petroleum-based fuel.

"We're the only base in the Air Force simultaneously testing the two types of aviation fuels," said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Graham, the 19th LRS fuels flight chief. The money-saving difference is the potential for less additives. Fewer additives mean less hazardous, less expensive fuel."

"Jet A becomes (similar to) JP-8 when we receive it and mix three different additives," said Airman 1st Class Clinton Anderson, a 19th LRS fuels distribution operator. A static dissipater, a corrosion inhibitor and lubricity improver, and a fuels system icing inhibitor all of which meet military specifications.

"The theory is that if we can remove the additives, we can save the Air Force up to 4 cents per gallon with an estimated annual savings of $40 million" in the United States, said Airman Anderson.

Although fuel handling procedures for mechanics, fuel handlers and fuel system maintenance personnel do not change, the Air Force has the possibility of reducing the production of hazardous waste by eliminating the fuel system icing inhibitor from bulk fuel tank bottoms.

The second type of aviation fuel the base is testing is synthetic jet fuel, called SPK. It's designed to reduce dependency on foreign oil.

"(This fuel) is derived from coal or natural gas by a 1920s process known as Fischer Tropsch Synthesis. We are testing a blend of 50 percent JP-8 and 50 percent synthetic," said Airman 1st Class Ronnie Miller, a 19th LRS fuels distribution operator.

"That means we can buy 50 percent less foreign oil if we adopt this type of fuel," Sergeant Graham said.

Air Force officials are developing and implementing fuels that are better for the environment, based on renewable resources, reduce dependence on foreign oil and save money.

Members of the 19th LRS are implementing E85 and biodiesel operations for ground equipment, and are implementating SPK and Jet A fuels. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Biodiesel is 80 percent diesel and 20 percent organic byproduct, such as recycled cooking grease from restaurants.

"Our efforts here will provide an Air Force-wide source of information on how these aviation fuels will affect aircraft, pumping systems and refueling vehicles," Sergeant Graham said.

The Air Force consumed almost 2.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel in fiscal 2007 at a cost of almost $5.6 billion, according to Air Mobility Command officials. Aviation fuel accounted for approximately 81 percent of the total Air Force energy costs.