Marines innovating expeditionary fuel additization

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Although there are more than 600 U.S. Defense Fuel Support Points located around the world, sourcing military specification fuel in an expeditionary environment on short notice or in small quantities sometimes proves challenging. 

When a deploying unit rapidly needs specialized fuel, there is a historic gap between the time when Defense Logistics Agency Energy receives the requirement and when it can source the fuel needed. This is particularly a problem for Marines operating in isolated areas.

“For enduring locations and defense fuel support points, suppliers normally inject the necessary additives before final delivery to a base, camp, or station,” said Samuel Cooks, DLA Energy Strategic Policy & Programs Directorate energy initiatives program manager. “For small-scale requirements in remote geographic locations or when commercial delivery of military specification fuel is not available in the local market, on occasion the fuel must be additized on-site to sustain operations.”

To create the fuel needed to operate military aircraft, vehicles and equipment, DLA Energy relies on the injection of additives into commercial jet fuel. When timing or conditions necessitate the conversion of commercially procured fuel in the field, the process requires special equipment, training, and quality control measures.

Currently, the Marine Corps does not have the organic capability to conduct additive injection in the field. Historically, it relies on Army support inland and the Navy for sea-based delivery.

According to a Marine Forces Pacific Urgent Universal Need Statement, an expeditionary fuel additive injection system is needed to address a critical capability gap.

To help find a solution, the U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office partnered with DLA Energy to test a commercial-off-the-shelf injection capability at Defense Fuel Support Point Charleston, South Carolina, May 21-23.

The Marine Corps Expeditionary Mobile Fuel Additization Capability prototype system leverages the Hammonds Model TPI-3T-3A Portable Fluid Powered Additive Injector – a small, portable and easy to use system that blends the three necessary additives with commercially available jet fuel.  

“Fuel system icing inhibitor, corrosion inhibitor/lubricity improver and static dissipater additives are needed for U.S. military weapons systems and support equipment,” Cooks said. “Specifically, the additives prevent formation of ice in fuel during flight, fight microorganism growth, reduce fuel-system corrosion problems, add the lubricity needed for diesel engines, and improve ground safety during storage, transfer and issue.”  

During the field demonstration, the Marines and DLA Energy quality assurance representatives successfully additized more than 8,000 gallons of commercial jet fuel to produce military-specification Jet Petroleum 8.

“On-site testing revealed that additives were injected at the right proportions and all sample results were within specification,” said Guno Kletter, DLA Energy Strategic Policy & Programs Directorate energy initiatives program manager.

The demonstration validated the equipment, familiarized users with the process and prepared users for a larger-scale test in July during the biennial Rim of Pacific, or RIMPAC, multinational maritime exercise in Hawaii, Lee Duncan with the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office explained.

“The demonstration collected data on the accuracy of the additive injection process,” Duncan said. “It was important to use the system in a test environment before using it operationally to support RIMPAC.”

Stakeholders from DLA Energy Americas at Houston; DLA Energy Bulk Fuels Executive Agent Office; U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office; U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command; U.S. Marine Corps Detachment Laboratory Course; Marine Wing Support Detachment 31; Naval Air Systems Command; U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center; Army Petroleum Center; and Hammonds Technical Services, Inc. participated in the demonstration.

All users received familiarization training on the set-up, calibration, operation, safe handling and troubleshooting of the injector system before conducting the validation test using two scenarios.  

“Scenario one was the delivery from a commercial source to military equipment with an additive injector in between the commercial source and the military equipment,” Cooks said. “Scenario two was the use of a military truck/storage unit filled with commercial fuel that transferred fuel to another military truck with an additive injector in between both truck/storage units to convert the fuel.”   

While on-site testing showed the fuel was within quality assurance requirements, samples were collected during each iteration and sent to a military petroleum lab for further testing and analysis. 

“To be clear, DLA Energy is not moving away from procuring and delivering military specification fuels,” said Army Col. Doug Henry, DLA Energy chief of staff. “Yet, this capability gives the services a portable, small-scale solution to addressing the historic gap between requirements generation and when DLA Energy can deliver a MILSPEC product. Additionally, this replaces less-precise, hand-blending techniques that put our service members at a greater risk of harm from contact with the fuel and additives.”

Based on this test, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office will incorporate the feedback and lessons learned in field procedures and training guides. 

“Further testing of the additization system in a full-scale exercise will help to validate that the capability fully addresses the Marines’ requirements,” Henry said. “We look forward to helping the Marines and the other military services innovate this rapid-deployment/small-scale injection capability to increase lethality through greater supply chain resiliency and strengthen readiness postures to meet global requirements.”