In response to an initiative led by the Air Force Petroleum Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency in 2009 to help the Department of Defense become more efficient by eliminating portions of its existing JP-8 fuel supply chain, Edwards is preparing its own facilities, along with the Air Force, to convert to commercial Jet A fuel with additives within the continental United States.
Part of that preparation involves remarking the fuels infrastructure, which includes all vehicles, facilities and equipment to display the new type of fuel.
“By tapping into the larger commercial fuel market, the DOD has more fuel sources available. The much larger commercial fuel supply chain gives the DOD more operational flexibility and increases procurement competition to reduce fuel costs,” said Cliff Cunningham, 412th Mission Support Group fuels testing and technical advisor.
However, before the remarking process can occur at Edwards, Cunningham said the first phase of the conversion involves the installation of a filtration system, an additive injection system with tanks and a pipeline meter run by the Kinder Morgan Company. The Kinder Morgan Company currently provides JP-8 fuel from their underground pipeline system to the Edwards pipeline system, which will later provide Jet A fuel for Edwards flight operations.
“Once the Kinder Morgan station expansion occurs, the 412th MSG will also retain a small capability to store JP-8 fuel in support of B-52 and RQ-4 [Global Hawk] requirements for the higher freeze point JP-8 jet fuel,” said Cunningham.
Although JP-8 and Jet A are both Kerosene-based aviation fuels, Cunningham said that the only major difference between Jet A and JP-8 grades is the fuel freezing point. The freezing point requirement for Jet A is warmer at a maximum of minus 40 degrees Celsius, while JP-8 is minus 47 degrees Celsius.
While the freezing point is the only difference, Cunningham added that Jet A allows for the same three fuel additives required in JP-8; which are the Fuel System Icing Inhibitor (FSII), Static Dissipater Additive, and the Corrosion Inhibitor/Lubricity Improver (CI/LI); that can all be added to Jet A fuel.
“Jet A with any combination or all three of these additives is still Jet A. It was a collective decision by the DOD to include the three additives in the Jet A issued on military installations because some military aircraft still require them,” said Cunningham. “The addition of FSII lowers the freezing point of water in the fuel and can inhibit microbial growth. This is a key imperative for the Army, since tactical vehicles that run on jet fuel still require CI/LI for its lubricity qualities.”
To date, the Air Force has progressed with the transition of a total of 29 bases to commercial Jet A fuel with additives. All Edwards aircraft, except B-52s and RQ-4s, are projected to convert to Jet A fuel around November 2013. Estimated savings in fuel costs for Edwards AFB is approximately $2.4 million†over the next five years (fiscal years 2014 through 2018).