Mar 30 2009
Air Mobility Command bases are using a new aircraft engine wash system that's not only better for the plane, but also it is better for the environment.
The EcoPower Engine Wash System is a system that uses atomized water, collects the effluent water and purifies it for recycled use.
EcoPower builders claim washing the engines will reduce engine fuel burn by as much as 1.2 percent.
"C-17 (Globemaster III) engines washed using the EcoPower Engine Wash System have shown measurable improvements in fuel efficiency and cooler operating temperatures," said Master Sgt. Richard Fults, the AMC C-17 propulsion superintendent. "The cooler exhaust gas temperatures also decrease heat stress on these engines, which benefits us in two ways. First, we see the engines are staying on the wing longer, and second, we are seeing gains in terms of preventive maintenance."
Twice a year, 437th Airlift Wing C-17s go through a home station check, and part of that check includes the routine washing of the four engines.
"Charleston AFB has been using the EcoPower wash system for about the last year," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Bodle, a 437th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman.
Once the C-17 has completed the home station check and it's time for the engines to be washed, a call goes out to the local EcoPower wash service representatives and Charleston AFB maintainers prep the C-17 on the flightline, Sergeant Bodle said.
"The routine for the post home station check engine wash begins with Air Force personnel first preparing the engines by removing the electronic engine control water trap plugs from the affected engines," said George Babcheck, a 437th Maintenance Squadron propulsion element foreman. "Next, an inlet and exhaust inspection is accomplished by the three-person engine run crew."
EcoPower wash representatives come out to Charleston AFB where the jet is ready and waiting for them to install the wash system nozzle onto the engine's inlet, Sergeant Bodle said.
"Using the EcoPower service has reduced the time we previously needed to wash the engines," Sergeant Fults said.
After the nozzle is installed, Charleston AFB Airmen in the cockpit receive direction from another Airman on the flightline to motor the engines while the EcoPower wash runs water through the C-17 engine thoroughly cleaning it, Mr. Babcheck said.
EcoPower wash builders claim the fine mist penetrates deeper into the engine's core, saturating and cleaning all surfaces.
"Once the wash is complete, the contractors remove the wash manifolds, water collectors and tubing while Air Force personnel reinstall the water traps and prepare for the engine run procedure that is required to thoroughly dry the gas path of the engine before returning the aircraft to service," Mr. Babcheck said.
Not only does the engine wash system keep engines on the jets longer, but also it has environmental benefits as well.
The "closed-loop" system collects and recycles the runoff water, keeping potentially contaminated water off of the flightline and running off into the surrounding areas.
EcoPower wash contractors also claim that by using their system, as much as three pounds of carbon dioxide emissions for every pound of fuel saved will be eliminated from the atmosphere.
"Today, as we are trying to more efficiently utilize our resources, expand our conservation of energy and be better stewards of our environment," said Maj. Gen. Robert H. McMahon, the Headquarters Air Force director of logistics. "Few opportunities exist for us to address all three simultaneously. Engine washes are one of those initiatives that does."