By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois
633rd Air Base Wing
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., Feb. 24, 2017 — The 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Management Flight here was chosen to participate in a 12-month-long experimental testing of a new bio-based grease to lessen the base’s impact on the environment.
The 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron and 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.
Members of the 441st VSCOS will also partner with the Navy, Marine Corps, NASA and the Kennedy Space Center to test the bio-based grease in their vehicles.
Friendly to the Environment
“Bio-based grease is a bio-environmentally friendly lithium-based product that takes the place of petroleum-based grease,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Moss, the 441st VSCOS vehicle program management branch program manager. “We do a lot of planning, research and working with different partners such as 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 Defense Department-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,” Moss said. “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.”
Other Test Sites
To keep the integrity of the experiment, Joint Base Langley-Eustis was not the only base selected for testing. The other bases selected include Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and Hill AFB, Utah. Each base was selected based on its diverse climates, unique mission capabilities and vehicle usage.
“[Joint Base Langley-Eustis] 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,” Moss said. “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.”
Along with lessening the impact on the environment, this test could potentially show if the maintainers are affected by the shift to eco-friendly products. By changing from a petroleum-based to a non-petroleum-based product, the research team expects vehicle maintenance life will be extended, as well as decreasing the time between needed maintenance and the amount of work maintainers put in.
According to George Handy, DLA program manager, the DoD sets the example for civilian agencies by leading the way in green products and sustainability.
‘DoD Leads the Way’
“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,” Handy said. “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,” Moss said. “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.”