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Edwards AFB continues to maximize energy efficiency with opening of E85 gas point

Team Edwards members cut pieces of the ceremonial ribbon that officially opened the new E85 fuel tank at the Government Gas Station April 6.  E85, commonly called fuel ethanol, is made of 85-percent ethanol blended with 15-percent gasoline and is more environmentally friendly than regular gasoline. Pictured from left: Randy Beckett, 95th Civil Engineering Division deputy director; James Judkins, 95th CE director; Satwaji Kumar, 95th CE Infrastructure Systems engineer; Cliff Cunningham, 95th Mission Support Group fuels testing and technical advisor; Sandra Sergent, 95th MSG Logistics and Readiness division chief; and Col. Buddy Berry, 95th MSG commander.  (Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

Team Edwards members cut pieces of the ceremonial ribbon that officially opened the new E85 fuel tank at the Government Gas Station April 6. E85, commonly called fuel ethanol, is made of 85-percent ethanol blended with 15-percent gasoline and is more environmentally friendly than regular gasoline. Pictured from left: Randy Beckett, 95th Civil Engineering Division deputy director; James Judkins, 95th CE director; Satwaji Kumar, 95th CE Infrastructure Systems engineer; Cliff Cunningham, 95th Mission Support Group fuels testing and technical advisor; Sandra Sergent, 95th MSG Logistics and Readiness division chief; and Col. Buddy Berry, 95th MSG commander. (Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Edwards took another step towards energy efficiency April 6 with a ribbon cutting signifying the grand opening of a new E85 gas tank at the Government Vehicle Gas Station.

E85, commonly called fuel ethanol, is made of 85-percent denatured ethanol blended with 15-percent gasoline. It's a renewable fuel made from agricultural crops and is domestically produced to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

E85 is both a renewable energy source and alternative fuel that reduces the base's dependence on traditional oil.

"E85 reduces smog forming pollutants by 25-percent; reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 35-percent to 40-percent and increased vehicular horsepower by 5-percent," said Satwaji Kumar, 95th Civil Engineering Division project manager.

Executive Order 13423 and Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated government agencies to increase use of alternative fuels and renewable energy.

The project began with an idea back in 2009 at the Vehicle Management Working Group which was chaired by Murray Westley and David Everest, both were with 95th Mission Support Group Logistics and Readiness, and Cliff Cunningham, 95th MSG fuels testing and technical advisor, in concert with 95th CE and Environmental Management.

Cunningham located a potential source for the tank after computing the capacity required based on the fuel usage data from Everest.

The team sculpted the idea, then 95th CE awarded the contract, reviewed the design and then managed the construction of the E85 fuel tank and dispenser at a cost of $146,000; less than half the cost at other installations.

Cunningham ordered the tank, obtained Defense Logistics Agency Energy capitalization to ensure future maintenance and repair costs were funded by DLA-E and not Edwards by ensuring integration into the DLA-E financial system for proper accounting of fuel sales.

"Like any alternative fuel, there are some design and environmental considerations to take into account when contemplating the use of ethanol," said Kumar.

Edwards AFB environmental management worked diligently with the state of California to garner approval of the components and Aboveground Storage Tank from the State to include the California Air Resources Board.

The base also received a permit to operate from East Kern County Air Pollution Control District as well.

The 12,000-gallon flame shield tank for E-85 gasoline is double-walled and fire resistant.

To combat the corrosive nature of E85 fuel, the inner shell of the tank is made of stainless steel.

The E85 equipment skid is equipped with tank; primary and secondary emergency vents; pressure vacuum vent; ladder; one man-way; overfill prevention valve; tank gauge with high level alarm; mechanical leak detection; dispenser and proper decals.

Kumar said Edwards can provide E-85 fuel for 200 Air Force Flex-fuel vehicles, which equates to over one-third of the general purpose vehicle fleet assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center.

Once the FFVs are programmed, which is ongoing, the vehicles will be able to fill up at the new E85 station.

"This effort institutionalized Edwards AFB as a pioneer in E85 fuel delivery system in Kern County, Calif.," said Kumar.

"This enables Edwards AFB to meet the Presidential mandate to reduce consumption of petroleum products for ground transportation by 30-percent by the year 2020," said James Judkins, 95th CE director.
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