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An Airman with the 507th Air Refueling Wing prepares to fuel an aircraft prior to take off. Tinker will soon swtich from JP-8 fuel to the cheaper and more readily available Jet A fuel. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)
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Jet fuel switch saves big bucks

Posted 12/13/2013   Updated 12/13/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Mike W. Ray
Tinker Public Affairs


12/13/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- Saving 2 cents a gallon when filling the fuel tank of your car, pickup or SUV is just a proverbial "drop in the bucket." You'd save about a quarter, maybe a half-dollar. A 2-cent savings in jet fuel, though, equates to more than half a million dollars for Tinker Air Force Base and U.S. taxpayers.

Tinker is one of several Air Force bases switching from JP-8 to Jet A fuel, which is 2 cents per gallon cheaper and is available from more sources. The conversion program is intended to "reduce the cost of fuel and improve energy security," the Air Force explained.

Tinker consumes approximately 2.3 million gallons of jet fuel each month, or 27.6 million gallons annually, according to John R. Rucci, functional director in the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Quality Flight.

"The much larger commercial fuel supply chain gives the Department of Defense more operational flexibility and increases procurement competition to reduce fuel costs," the Air Force related. "Additionally, the DOD can become more efficient by eliminating portions of" the JP-8 supply chain.

JP-8 and Jet A both are kerosene-based aviation fuels. They have the same energy content, density range and flash point (100 degrees Fahrenheit minimum, the temperature at which the fuel ignites). JP-8 is the current military specification jet fuel, while Jet A is the commercial standard jet fuel. "They can be intermixed in the same tank at any ratio," Mr. Rucci said.

The difference in the two fuels is their freezing points (minus-40 degrees Centigrade for Jet A, minus-47 degrees Centigrade for JP-8) and additives required for military aircraft.
JP-8 contains three fuel additives: Fuel System Icing Inhibitor, which lowers the freezing point of water that's inherently found in fuel and which inhibits the growth of microbes; Static Dissipater Additive; and Corrosion Inhibitor/Lubricity Improver.

The Jet A issued on military installations includes the trio of additives in the same concentrations prescribed in JP-8 specifications because some military aircraft still require them, the Air Force reported.

While the gasoline burned in your car, pickup or van has an "anti-knock" octane rating, jet fuel is rated by its Btu's (British thermal units, a measurement of heat), Mr. Rucci said.
The fuels switch is an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiative that was approved five and a half years ago. The Air Force Petroleum Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency Energy began the initiative four years ago by conducting a demonstration at four Air Force locations.

According to the AFPA Jet A Team, 31 Air Force bases have transitioned to commercial Jet A with additives. Tinker is among the bases that will switch to Jet A fuel in 2014. The switch-over is scheduled for mid-January, Mr. Rucci said.



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