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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2017

Langley 1 of 4 AFBs to test bio-based grease

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was chosen to participate in a 12-month long experimental testing of a new bio-based grease to lessen JBLE’s impact on the environment.

The 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron and the representatives from the Defense Logistics Agency briefed the vehicle management flight about the impact of the bio-based grease on the three vehicles chosen to test the grease, Jan. 31, 2017.

Members of the 441st VSCOS will also partner with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, NASA and the Kennedy Space Center to test the bio-based grease in their vehicles.

“Bio-based grease is a bio-environmentally friendly lithium-based product that takes the place of petroleum-based grease,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Moss, 441st VSCOS vehicle program management branch program manager. “We do a lot of planning, research and working with different partners such, as the DLA and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, to select the random vehicles from several different bases to participate in this program.

After the testing is complete, if the bio-based grease proves to be just as capable as the current grease being used, it will be substituted and used Air Force-wide, and possibly Department of Defense-wide. According to Moss, the environmentally-friendly bio-based grease aligns with the Air Force’s initiative to utilize more renewable or green materials and resources.

“The more petroleum-based products we can take out of our vehicle maintenance inventories and change them over to a greener system, the better for the environment it is,” said Moss. “If bio-environmentally friendly grease falls onto the ground, it still takes energy to clean it up, but doesn’t necessarily hurt the environment as much as the petroleum-based lubricant.”

To keep the integrity of the experiment, JBLE was not the only base selected for testing.

JBLE is one of four Air Force bases that will be testing the grease in its vehicles, to include Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and Hill AFB, Utah. Each base was selected based on their diverse climates, unique mission capabilities and vehicle usage.

“JBLE places a great deal of pressure on its vehicles, tugging aircraft to and from the flightline, as well as a mixture of warm and cool weather conditions,” said Moss. “Here at Langley, it’s not too cold, not too hot and we get some salty air “It’s important to test here so we get a good idea how vehicles are affected in this type of environment.”

As with this experiment, products are being introduced throughout the Air Force to move toward using more renewable resources in hopes of positively impacting the environment, funding and the Airmen within the fleet.

“We will be saving money, energy and the environment,” said Moss. “The big thing we are looking for is positive performance of the vehicle life, a progressive sustainability of the grease and that the weather impacts and impact on the environment are better.”

Along with ensuring the positive impact on the environment, this test could potentially show if the maintainers are positively affected by the shift to eco-friendly products. By changing over from a petroleum-based to a non-petroleum-based, the research team expects that the vehicle maintenance life will extend, as well as the time between needed maintenance, decreasing the amount of work the maintainers put into them. If the grease extends the vehicle life, the longer the vehicle will be in service making it more cost effective for the Air Force as it shifts to eco-friendly resources.

“We are trying to make a more streamline fighting force with the ‘do more with less’ philosophy,” said Moss. “If we can prolong the intervals between maintenance, we can put less stress on our people. That’s how we use innovation to get to the next level where we are doing less maintenance, but quality maintenance, with the same amount of people.”

According to George Handy, DLA program manager, the DOD sets the example for civilian agencies by leading the way in green products and sustainability.

“I think it’s very important that the DOD leads the way in these activities because so many of us are doing this in our own civilian lives, off the installation, and are being subjected to the opportunity to buy sustainable products at home,” said Handy. “Bringing awareness of the DOD using sustainable products may encourage commercial sectors such as the railroad and farming industry to implement bio-based products, therefore reducing the impact on the environment.”

As the Air Force increases the use of sustainable products throughout everyday operations, Airmen gain the knowledge and opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of going green.

“The Air Force is on the leading edge of technology,” said Moss. “Hopefully, we can use this initiative to become a greener fleet and reduce our carbon footprint. We are the world’s greatest Air Force. We fly, fight, win and push to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

For more information about the use of sustainable operations at JBLE, contact the 733rd LRS at 764-5713.