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SwRI evaluates effects of explosion-dampening material on military fuel

San Antonio, Texas -- November 12, 2002 -- To improve the survivability of military tactical ground equipment, Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) is evaluating the effects of a new metallic-mesh, explosion-dampening material on U.S. Army vehicle fuel tanks.

The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) Fuels and Lubricants Research Facility (TFLRF), operated by SwRI, was awarded $1.6 million to detect and evaluate any deleterious effects that the material may have on the vehicle's fuel and fuel system.

"Although it's important to determine if this material resists fuel-tank explosions, we must also know if the material itself adversely affects the fuel. That's what our testing program will determine," said Edwin Frame, manager of the Fuels, Lubricants, and Fluids Applications Section at TFLRF.

The U.S. military is developing lighter and faster vehicles for its rapid deployment forces. To ensure a flexible strike capability, the military must have the ability to transport its vehicles over long distances and then operate them in rough terrain. Congress has mandated and funded a program to improve the survivability of the tactical vehicles in case of fuel tank impacts.

"The Army uses JP-8 to fuel its ground tactical and combat vehicles," explained Program Manager Bernard Wright, a technical advisor to the TFLRF. "This fuel has several additives to improve properties such as lubricity and anticorrosivity. We are determining if the mesh, which will be inside the fuel tank in direct contact with the fuel, will deplete or change these additives. We will also be monitoring the fuel draw and fill rates, static electricity buildup, and fungal growth rate, as well as any effects of metallic chaff on the fuel filter."

During the 18-month program, funded by the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, TFLRF will perform laboratory and vehicle tests using two fuels, two government-furnished vehicles, and six mesh samples provided by different manufacturers. The test fuels include high-sulfur diesel fuel and JP-8, and the vehicles are the Army's high-mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicle, known as the HMMWV, and the M119 transporter truck.

"The Army may also operate its tactical vehicles using fuel from foreign local markets," noted Wright. "We are testing high-sulfur diesel fuel as the most likely alternative fuel."

Vulnerability testing will be performed by the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

The TFLRF is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility located at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, and staffed by SwRI personnel.

For more information, contact Joe Fohn, Communications, (210) 522-4630, Fax (210) 522-3547, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.


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