MacDill AFB beats the heat with innovation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David D. McLoney
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

It is 5 p.m. and you have been outside on a hot and humid 105-degree day for 12 hours. All you can think about is being able to go inside and feel a cool breeze from the air conditioning unit in your car and house; imagine if you did not have to go inside to stay cool.

Aiming to allow military members to work hard in a more comfortable environment, the Personal Cooling System, or PCS, provided by Florida-based RINI Technologies keeps Airmen at a cool 72-degrees while being compact enough to wear beneath protective gear and clothing.

RINI Technologies proposed the PCS during the MacDill AFB Pitch Day, Jan. 22, and secured a contract to provide the 6th Air Refueling Wing’s maintenance and Security Forces personnel with an innovative cooling vest, designed to keep Airmen cool when in uniform during hot days – or in areas where there are high temperatures.

“Our entire business focus is to mainly help the troops and employ something to make their jobs easier,” said Daniel Rini, RINI Technologies president. “We want to be able to help the home team.”

In helping the home team at MacDill Air Force Base, RINI Technologies also secured a contract to bring the PCS Air Force-wide.

“After the success with MacDill (AFB), I submitted a small proposal at the Air Force level,” Rini said. “The Air Force likes the technology that was presented through the business initiative, so a larger agreement was set up so the technology would be supplied to larger entities to include the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Combat Command.”

The PCS uses miniature refrigeration cycles to generate chilled water providing constant cooling to regulate the body temperature of the individual and keep them cool. The chilled water is circulated through a network of small tubes in the cooling vest, pulling heat from the body at an ideal temperature and releasing the heat to the internal heat exchanger.

“This vest is already deployed with aircrew and maintenance personnel,” said Lt. Col. Brian H. Sheehan, 6th Contracting Squadron commander. “It is critical to improving work environmental conditions on flight lines we operate on around the world where temperatures can rise to more than 130 degrees.”

Obtaining the contract with MacDill AFB is just the start, as RINI Technologies will be working directly with Airmen to custom design this system to fit their equipment, KC-135 Stratotanker, and six SFS patrol vehicles, allowing for MacDill AFB personnel to be happier while reducing the potential of heat related illness or injury.

“This industry technology is a tiny representation of the vast capability that exists in the marketplace that deliver significant benefit to the 6 ARW,” Sheehan said. “Innovative solutions are prolific, and we must invest time and resources to identify technologies that enhance our mission readiness and improve the quality of life for our Airmen. In a time where funding is increasingly scarce, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program represents a pool of funding not previously tapped into by the 6 ARW.”

Being one of the first SBIR grants given by MacDill AFB, the agreement with RINI Technologies will pave the way for future contracts with the base and the Air Force.

“This contract serves as an example of what is possible,” Sheehan said. “Wing units must be willing to work with small businesses like RINI Technologies and invest time and resources to develop innovative solutions that make our Airman more lethal. We must leverage this commitment to educate and motivate Airmen to passionately embrace the SBIR program and seek out companies who have promising technologies that solve our tough problems.”