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JBSA-Randolph’s military service station leans on alternative fuel

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Dec. 6, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —

For more than a decade, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph’s military service station has depended on an alternative fuel to power many of the location’s government cars and passenger vans.

The use of the flex-fuel E85 – a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline – helps meet environmental goals and reduces reliance on foreign oil, said Dennis Stewart, 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron lead contracting officer representative/quality assurance and property administrator.

“Alternative fuel consumption was driven by an executive order issued in 2007 and the Energy Policy Act of 1992,” he said. “JBSA-Randolph led the charge by converting to the alternative fuels E85 unleaded and B20 biodiesel.”

The service station no longer dispenses B20 due to extensive vehicle and equipment maintenance costs associated with it, but E85 remains a vital commodity in the facility’s fuel inventory, accounting for some 40,000 gallons annually.

Randolph converted to B20 diesel in January 2005 and used it for 13 years before returning to DS2, a low-sulfur diesel fuel that is not considered an alternative fuel, Stewart said. E85 became part of the fuel inventory in March 2005.

E85 does not match regular unleaded gasoline’s fuel economy, but it provides these benefits: the engine oil remains clean for a longer time, there is less stress on the engine, there is a reduction in overall engine maintenance and it reduces carbon monoxide emissions.

According to Air Force Instruction 24-302, use of alternative fuels specifically applies to general-purpose light-duty vehicles, those that are less than or equal to 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight.

“All government and government-leased cars and most passenger vans use either E85 or regular unleaded fuel whereas most larger trucks, buses and large utility-type vehicles generally use diesel,” Stewart said. “All generators use diesel.”

Currently 107 vehicles – or 37 percent of Randolph’s eligible alternative fuel vehicles – are flex-fuel and utilize E85, said Peter Guillemette, 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fleet Management and Analysis and Materiel Control supervisor.

“The AFVs, whether purchased or rented/leased, are bi-fuel, flex-fuel or a dedicated alternative fueled vehicle,” he said. “Bi-fuel AFVs have two mutually exclusive fuel systems and are designed to operate on either gasoline or an alternative fuel such as compressed natural gas or propane, using one fuel at a time. Dedicated AFVs are vehicles that operate solely on an alternative fuel.”

Randolph’s AFV fleet also consists of 42 hybrid electric vehicles, which combine the benefits of gasoline or diesel engines and electric motors, Guillemette said.

“Hybrid electric vehicles can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power or additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools,” he said.

In addition to reducing dependence on foreign oil, Randolph’s AFV fleet reduces the consumption of petroleum-based fuel and improves air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Guillemette said.

JBSA-Randolph’s service station is in the 502nd LRS Vehicle Operations motor pool facility, where pumps dispense E85, diesel fuel and regular unleaded gasoline to some 500 government vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances and buses, as well as to flight line equipment, lawn equipment and power washers.