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Staff Sgt. Garret Nichols, 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels administration noncommissioned officer in charge, monitors pressure on system piping of a fuel tank during a routine inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)
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Using alternative sources fuels force

Posted 1/23/2014   Updated 1/23/2014 Email story   Print story


by Jenny Gordon
Robins Public Affairs

1/23/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Reducing reliance on fossil fuels remains a top priority across military installations.

At Robins, the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron is responsible for nearly 900 vehicles fueled here that support various missions. They range from Defense Logistics Agency vehicles to those used by the 116th Air Control Wing that take diesel, gasoline, biodiesel or E-85 alternative fuels.

A 12,000-gallon, above-ground E-85 biofuels tank project was completed and ready for use at Robins in April 2013. The move was a welcome one since in years past vehicles would travel to a facility on Moody Road to stock up on E-85.

By having a self-serve station on base, the move saved vehicle operators time, gas and accident possibilities while travelling off base.

There are about 220 biodiesel vehicles in use, and 118 vehicles which use E-85, a high-level gasoline and ethanol blend, which can offer increased vehicle power and performance while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We've actually been using biodiesel since 2004," said Millard Harrington, Fuels Management Flight chief.

Eighty percent of biodiesel is made from petroleum with the other 20 percent coming from alternative biological ingredients such as plant oils or animal fat, he added.

In 2013, Robins issued nearly 155,000 gallons of biodiesel fuels to its vehicles; since March of last year, nearly 53,000 gallons of E-85 was issued. Robins will soon gain the use this year of two new alternative fuel vehicles - Chevy Volts which will join the fleet this spring.

The cars can average 900 miles between charges, but can also alternate to gas to extend ranges between charges. A charging station will be located here.

Through the use of flexible-fuel vehicles that use E-85, biofuel and electric vehicles, the total efforts help to meet the federal mandate of fossil fuel reduction, according to Mitch Moody with 78th LRS vehicle maintenance flight.

"We are continually looking at ways to reduce emissions and use of fossil fuels," he said.

In the last few years, there's been 100 percent emphasis on acquiring vehicles that run on alternative fuels, said Master Sgt. Fredrick Cowell with the Air Force Element, Vehicle and Equipment Management Support Office in Langley, Va.

Along with a focus on low greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles, a clean burning vehicle, there has also been emphasis on electric vehicles.

For example, 13 Nissan Leafs were acquired at Los Angeles Air Force Base, a move the base has been working toward to outfit its fleet with 100 percent electric vehicles.

The Air Force's total reportable fleet includes 46,000 vehicles, of which 12,000 are alternative fuel vehicles; a majority of the others are diesel vehicles, and depending on location, primarily operate on B20 biodiesel.

Light-duty and leased vehicles consist of 17,000 vehicles, of which 10,000 run on alternative fuels. There are also 4,400 sedans and station wagons in use, with 3,400 running on alternative fuels.

Of 3,400, 930 are strictly hybrid vehicles. On another note, while it will take time to adjust infrastructure to meet the goal of reducing fossil fuel use, another big initiative is right-sizing the fleet, ensuring that Air Force vehicles needed to complete missions are in correct locations for specific operations.

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