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News | Dec. 14, 2018

Marines test system to expand fuel capabilities

By Staff Sgt. William A. O’Brien Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

A technical demonstration of the expeditionary Mobile Fuel Additization Capability was successfully completed at the Charleston Defense Fuel Supply Point by Marines and Soldiers from various bases Dec. 4-7, 2018 with the support of Joint Base Charleston.

The MFAC is a device used to convert commercial jet fuel into fuel that meets military specification through the blending of additives.

Another goal of the tests was to compare the effectiveness of the MFAC against the Army’s current process of hand blending, which is a procedure used to manually additize fuel.

“This is the expeditionary mobile fuel capability, a brand new capability to the Marine Corps,” said Maj. Kelvin Chew, Marine Corps Expeditionary Office technology and experimentation officer. “There hasn't been anything new introduced to Marine Corps bulk fueling in 30 years when it comes to refueling. Different types of equipment and more modern equipment have come along, but nothing new procedurally.”

In November 2017, Marine Corps leadership saw certain areas were experiencing delays in refueling and were unable to procure the proper supplies because local fuels didn’t meet their specifications. Based on that, the MFAC was developed to supplement the supply provided by Defense Logistics Agency Energy, the primary agency responsible for additizing fuel and delivering it to the Marine Corps.

“DLA Energy’s main role is still to deliver F-24 fuel out to the operating forces, but at times, the need arises for our operators to go out to commercial airfield fuel sources in host countries that often don’t have mil spec fuel,” said Chew. “With this capability, they can go to those fuel sources, take it back and additize it on the spot so fuel can be issued to their aircraft, vehicles and ground equipment.”

This system works by injecting additives into fuel. To use the system, the operator must first test the fuel to find out if there’s currently any additives in it and if so, how much. Based on those findings, they calculate how much additive needs to be applied to the fuel, add that much into the MFAC, connect the MFAC to the fuel supply and run the fuel through the machine.

“I feel the tests went really well,” said Cpl. Dwayne Johnson, a laboratory technician with the Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Okinawa, Japan. “As we get more comfortable with the equipment and learn to use the systems more effectively and make sure everybody's experienced, we can keep getting faster while still using the equipment properly so we can meet the mission requirements.”

With these tests complete, the next step is to train Marines who work in bulk fuel to operate it properly. Then over the next year, bulk fuel units will be issued within their own systems.

“Implementation of the MFAC is part of training Marines and equipping them for contingency operations in the case that when they do deploy, if they don't have that available F-24 from DLA, in that situation, they'll be able to additize,” explained Chew.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Joint Base Charleston website.