Magazine article National Defense

Readers Forum

Magazine article National Defense

Readers Forum

Article excerpt

Fuel Alternatives Not Likely

The article "Slimmer Brigade Still Is Not Trim Enough" (Inside Track, December 2000, p. 6) contains specific comments regarding the TankAutomotive and Armaments Command study of the use of advanced fuels and lubricants to lighten the logistical load. These are, in my opinion, certainly not new and innovative.

In reality, the Army has been using synthetic lubricants (i.e., synthetic engine oil) since 1970, for the arctic environment and since 1980, with the introduction of the Abrams main battle tank, which required the synthetic-based aircraft-turbine engine oil.

The use of synthetic-based engine oils across the board for all Army vehicles and equipment has been debated and reviewed for the past several decades.

The one big obstacle has been their cost effectiveness, considering the typical operational environments of Army materiel (e.g., low mileage, intermittent use, long intervals of idling, etc.) that do not justify the additional cost for these synthetic lubricants.

The comments regarding fuel additives, and possibly the other technologies such as new refinery processes, being ready by 2004 also is questioned from two perspectives.

First, the probability of developing an additive fix that would significantly increase fuel economy and enhance fuel energy within the next three years is seriously questioned. Consider the developmental lead time needed for such an initiative, let alone the field validation for the differing types of engine systems that power the Army ground fleet.

Second, it also assumes that one can develop such an additive that will become transparent to the existing fuel supply and distribution systems and not require any changes to the materials (e. …

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