HomeNewsArticle Display

Chill, cryogenics has what you need

A beaker of liquid oxygen sits filled July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron has the only operational cryogenic production plant in the entire U.S. Air Force.

A beaker of liquid oxygen sits filled July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron has the only operational cryogenic production plant in the entire U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Hall and Senior Airman Christopher Tallan, both 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operators, prepare to fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The production plant provides liquid nitrogen and oxygen to different organizations throughout the island.

Senior Airmen Michael Hall and Christopher Tallan, both 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operators, prepare to fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The production plant provides liquid nitrogen and oxygen to different organizations throughout the island.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Hall, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operator, fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The production plant has been operational for nearly a year and has been very successful.

Senior Airman Michael Hall, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operator, fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The production plant has been operational for nearly a year and has been very successful.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Providing the base and various other units on the island with cryogenic products – whether it be in a liquid or gaseous form – is the plant’s priority.

“We produce the liquid oxygen and the liquid nitrogen here for our organizations across the island to make sure they get the product they need to make the mission happen,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Pannell, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant noncommissioned office in charge of cryogenic productions.

The production plant provides services for a range of reasons, whether it be for pilots or patients, the plant handles it all and can also be the difference in life or death in some instances.

“We manufacture liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen for various organizations to use…Breathable oxygen at high altitudes for aircraft, liquid nitrogen to fill tires for the aircraft so they don’t explode if they hit the ground too hard and the hospital has various uses for oxygen and nitrogen as you could imagine…It’s important,” said Senior Airman Christopher Tallan, 18th LRS cryogenic production operator.

While other bases have to purchase their liquid oxygen and nitrogen from external providers, Kadena Air Base is able to support the mission directly as well as save money.

“I don’t like to solely rely on other people because I know if we do it ourselves, it’s going to be done the right way and I think this is really valuable for the Air Force because we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to save money,” Pannell said. “We should really strive to be innovative and this is something I push down to my Airmen – to be innovative and think of new ways to do things.”

With innovation comes plenty of learning opportunities – and growing pains.

“It’s been challenging at times because everyone is learning a new plant,” Pannell explained. “We have to learn the ins and outs; everyone here is growing.”

Providing these services can prove to be rather complex. From separation of atmospheric air to expansion and cooling, the job is chemically impossible to do without machines.

The machine – production plant – typically runs one week at a time for 24 hours a day and enables the production of about 50 gallons an hour.

While the machine is doing its job, the rest of the team is ensuring it works properly.

“We have to do hourly checks to make sure nothing is malfunctioning,” Tallan said. “We’re responsible for knowing what’s supposed to be going on. With such a big plant and so many pipes, we have to make sure that nothing is in a pipe that shouldn’t be in it, and make sure things are at the right temperature in the pipes they’re supposed to be in.”

With such a unique and vital mission role, working at the only operational cryogenic production plant in the Air Force seems to be a great source of pride and inspiration for those in the career field.

“I love my job; I love coming to work. I work in a cryogenic facility – it’s insane,” Tallan laughed. “I always thought about the cryo guys and how badly I wanted to go for one day and see…It’s different when every single day you’re holding a sample of liquid oxygen and you can feel it boil inside the beaker…I love it.”

Along with the job being cool – literally and figuratively – it also demonstrates the importance of smart investment and innovation with promises of bettering the success of the Air Force mission as a whole.

“I take it as a personal challenge to myself and my team to do our best and actually show higher leadership that this is a legitimate plant and it could benefit not just Pacific Air Force, but other areas – especially overseas,” Pannell said.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@HollomanAFB & its co-located units will realign from @USAF_ACC to @AETCommand, effective Oct. 1.… https://t.co/UkCYJQoZzn
Identical twins share near-identical military careers as #USAF security forces #Airmen. https://t.co/odHGdsgsOe https://t.co/2DUsDK6CIR
Thousands of #Airmen have found support through our Exceptional Family Member Program, which allows them to proceed… https://t.co/OVSsRLN6F7
Hear @GenDaveGoldfein expound on what it takes to modernize #AirForce squadrons for future missions. https://t.co/a6F0tRfMxU
If you aren't taking advantage of #FollowFriday by following @Creech_AFB you are missing out on the famed "Hunters"… https://t.co/omTO945zAf
May we never forget, National #POWMIA Recognition Day. https://t.co/Oyu82RbIRO
RT @HQ_AFMC: Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the @usairforce Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, was one of the featured speake…
#ICYMI, Ms. Brie Larson, star of the upcoming feature film "Captain Marvel," joined #Airmen from across the NCR and… https://t.co/6lxYK3l85A
“Our dogs are definitely not pets; they are #MilitaryWorkingDogs – assets to the #USAF…The trust these teams have i… https://t.co/PVPq9Up5iN
#USAF optometry clinics keep #Airmen's eyes healthy so they can keep their sights set on the mission.… https://t.co/siyO4osHjr
First female chaplain from the #171ARW completes Leadership Development Institute training, develops the first… https://t.co/oFFpYZf9Mg
.@USAFReserve #Airmen @45thSpaceWing put their lives on temporary hold to respond to the aftermath of… https://t.co/m0yaqqUEaV
#ICYMI, @HAFB took a different approach to #cosplay at #FanX18 by teaming up with the Utah Engineers Council to pre… https://t.co/RChVGaP8rN
RT @USAFHealth: #TBT Flight Nurse Captain Shirley A. Armstrong hands a cup of fruit juice to a patient in a C-141 Starlifter during a medic…
Rapid global mobility is the mantra of the #816EAS and #ICYMI #Airmen continued to live it by shuttling cargo and l… https://t.co/5VI4R4wFQa
.@AETCommand officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next https://t.co/qB5YwQSLip
RT @SecAFOfficial: The #AirForce We Need, begins with resilient and ready #Airmen. #ASC18 #CMSAF https://t.co/ogfN6Xtn2V https://t.co/kyCJ…
We're going #LIVE as #CMSAF Wright speaks at #ASC18. Watch on our Facebook page at 10:45 a.m. EDT:… https://t.co/LIc3O6CdiW