Health & Safety

June 28, 2012

Fuels Laboratory brings quality results

Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The workstation in the 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Laboratory can put you in the mind of Frankenstein’s lab while he was creating his monster. It may not be as dark and shadowed, but its giant beakers, strange contraptions and air of mystic all point to brilliantly mad science.

In reality, the mission of the fuels lab is to provide quality fuel to every machine on D-M. Although this job may not sound as exciting as Frankenstein’s monster, it is of the utmost importance to the mission.

“We ensure the quality of every drop of fuel that is used on this base,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Herrera, 355th LRS non-commissioned officer in charge of the fuels lab. “Before it gets put into any aircraft or vehicle, we make sure it’s clean and we make sure its dry.”

That’s the motto of the fuels lab: “Make sure that the fuel is clean and dry”. The fuel needs to be clean so that it doesn’t clog the lines. Keeping the fuel “dry” means ensuring there isn’t too much water in the fuel.

“We also do a fuel system icing inhibitor test,” Herrera said. “The icing inhibitor is an additive that keeps the fuel from freezing in the air.”

Davis-Monthan receives its fuel from an off-base source via pipeline. The fuel must be tested multiple times a day to ensure that its quality is up to Air Force standards.

“We receive about 900,000 gallons of fuel a week,” said Staff Sgt. Clark Twiss, 355th LRS fuels lab technician.

With only three Airmen in the lab, staying on top of the fuel tests is a full time job.

“We work rotating shifts and, because there are three of us, one person is in the office by himself in the evenings,” Herrera said.

To test the fuel, a lab tech takes their test kit out to one of the fuel trucks and collects a sample.

The first thing they do is run a ground cable from the truck to the asphalt. This prevents sparks from igniting while they are handling the fuel.

After they don their personal protective equipment, they collect the gallon sample that they take back to the lab. Back in the lab, the fuel tested for quality.

“I do a particulate and water content check on the fuel with the gallon sample,” Twiss said. “Our main concern is ensuring that bad fuel never reaches the aircraft. If we allow that, then an aircraft could crash so we have to be diligent in our tests.”




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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer)

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