News | March 4, 2021

DLA, Navy project increases sustainable aircraft disinfectants

By Cathy Hopkins

Working with Naval Air Systems Command’s Materials Engineering Division, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation invested in a sustainable aircraft disinfectant project in May 2019 that resulted in DLA offering seven new products to meet Navy needs.

Moraima Lugo-Millán, a chemist for the Green Products Branch in DLA Aviation’s Hazardous Information Program, and Paul Roser, a materials engineering technician with the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Material Engineering Laboratory at Patuxent River, Maryland, have spent the past two years evaluating commercial decontamination products for aircraft.  

The team’s original goal was to provide the Naval Air Systems Command green products capable of working in harsh salt-water environments ashore and at sea. As COVID-19 spread worldwide, the need also rose for decontamination products and disinfectants that didn’t degrade aircraft materials.

Cleaning solvents applied with a rag or cloth can lead to uneven application, overuse, high costs, spillage and safety concerns, Roser said, adding that the group tested pre-saturated wipes because manufacturer data indicates they reduce solvent use by 20% without sacrificing safety.

Six of the new disinfectants DLA offers as a result of the project are available in wipe form and packaged in tear-away pouches, canisters or perforated rolls. The seventh is dispensed in a ready-to-use 32-ounce spray bottle that eliminates the need for users to mix the concentrate with alcohol. The items are available at DLA FedMall.

As project manager, Lugo-Millán confirmed the Navy’s needs and technical implications of the project, and managed the financial aspects.

“We base our evaluation of service/agency proposed projects from a logistical, environmental, safety, occupational-health and return-on-investment perspective,” said Fred Tramontin, chief of the Hazardous Minimization and Green Products Branch in DLA Aviation’s Engineering Directorate. “The return on investment is considered in terms of a reduction in the service’s operational maintenance costs on one hand, and on the other an increase in DLA’s portfolio in support of the agency’s ‘Warfighter Always’ strategic goal.”

The branch now has about 20 active projects with the Navy plus more with the Air Force, Army, NASA and other federal agencies. Tramontin said the branch funds projects to help reduce the Defense Department’s hazardous materials footprint, lower environmental impacts and lower costs.             

“Even in the midst of these challenging and unprecedented times, we remain focused in our commitment to address the warfighters’ needs and support their sustainable efforts while maintaining the fundamental pillars of our organization,” Lugo-Millán said.