New Technology Pulls Savings from Air

ACE192Liquid-nitrogen tanks on the flightline will become a thing of the past at Langley Air Force Base. Maintenance technicians instead will soon use machines that pull nitrogen from the air around them for servicing the 1st Fighter Wing’s aircraft and missile systems. The 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron’s aerospace ground equipment shop has a dozen of the new self-generating nitrogen-servicing carts and “the folks on the flightline are anxious to use them,” said Staff Sergeant Dominic Bartholomeo III, a trainer with the AGE shop.

Three reasons stand out: reliability—the nitrogen can be produced on demand and never runs out; safety—no high-pressure bottles to transfer; and economy—the carts pay for themselves quickly and should last many years.

Nitrogen is used “to service certain aircraft systems because it’s an extremely clean inert gas,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Cindy McNally, 1st Logistics Group chief enlisted manager. “It doesn’t contain oxygen or water, both of which introduce corrosion into systems.”

The carts are fully automatic and operate in all types of climates, Bartholomeo said. They draw in the ambient air, remove the impurities and store the nitrogen as a gas. “We’ll be getting totally out of the liquid-nitrogen business,” he said.

Use of the new carts will save weight on deployments because they don’t need ventilation kits as the liquid-nitrogen carts do. Another benefit is ease of maintenance: Filters will be replaced about every six months, which fits right in with AGE’s standard periodic-inspection procedures.

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