Chemical engineers and scientists at Defense Logistics Agency Aviation have successfully introduced a new family of bio-based lubricant products into the federal supply system. Engineers in the Hazardous Minimization and Green Products Branch collaborated with Aviation Supplier Operations’ Chemicals, Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants and Gases Integrated Supplier team to provide qualified, less hazardous products for everyday use by DLA military customers.
Last July, DLA Aviation joined with the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment and initiated dialogue with Fort Jackson, SC, and Joint Base Charleston, SC, to demonstrate the effectiveness of a bio-based alternative to petroleum-based penetrating lubricants.
Penetrating lubricants are chemicals designed to lubricate moving parts on equipment susceptible to rusting. Petroleum-based products commercially available include WD-40 and Liquid Wrench. Although bio-based alternatives are also available commercially, none had been tested and demonstrated for Department of Defense use until now.—Calvin Lee, chief of the Hazardous Minimization and Green Products Branch
Several Executive Orders and the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 mandate that federal agencies use green or bio-based products in an effort to reduce US dependence on petroleum-based products. Bio-based products are made from US-grown renewable feedstock such as soybean, corn and sunflower oils that can be made into a variety of products such as lubricants and industrial fluids, Lee said.
DLA Aviation and NDCEE performed an in-depth comparative analysis of bio-based items to determine if they would meet DoD performance requirements. The examination showed that two commercial bio-based products met the specification requirements on paper.
Using a petroleum-based product as a baseline, the two bio-based products’ performance results were compared on latches, hood access pins, bolts and tow hooks on Light Armored vehicles, road graders, dump trucks, Humvees and equipment at Joint Base Charleston, SC.
Members of the US Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command at Fort Jackson, SC and the US Air Force 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 437th Maintenance Group – Aircraft Ground Equipment at Joint Base Charleston, SC, agreed to participate in the demonstration of the two products. The tests were conducted for approximately 90 days at both locations. Measures of merit included whether the product loosened rusted bolts; appeared to provide protection from corrosion; the amount of product used and ease of use.
In almost every case, the bio-based products performed as well or better than the baseline petroleum-based product. Following military service users’ recommendations, in late 2010 DLA Aviation requested National Stock Numbers for the bio-based products. The NSNs were granted in January 2011 and bio-based penetrating lubricant NSNs 9150-01-591-4213/4274/4281/4247 are now readily available.