Environmental professionals at the Army Engineer School found a way reduce
oil disposal problems in Iraq by using commercial off-the-shelf equipment.
Oil-CAT can be positioned beside individual vehicles
to collect and blend used oil during routine oil
Used oil is a major waste stream for a deployed
army. The Army generates an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons
of used oil per week in Iraq. Although contracts that provide
for its disposal are in place, insurgents make the already
difficult job dangerous. Convoys are frequent targets of enemy
attacks, so commanders have reduced or stopped completely the
transport of waste such as used oil. The resulting stockpiling
of used oil presents a significant problem.
In the Army, used oil is handled as many as eight times before
its ultimate disposal, which generates an unacceptable drain
of available time and money. How can the Army eliminate this
costly waste stream? That is the question the team of Army
environmental professionals in the Army Engineer School’s
Directorate of Environmental Integration (DEI) asked themselves.
Kurt Kinnevan, a professional engineer and a DEI division chief,
found a potential solution in a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)
item called the Oil-CAT (Change Alternative Technology). The
Oil-CAT is a fuel-oil blender built by Clarus Technologies,
LLC, of Bellingham, Washington. It blends oil drained from
the crankcase of an individual piece of equipment during a
scheduled oil change with diesel or JP–8 from the vehicle’s
fuel tank. The Oil-CAT filters the oil and returns it to the
vehicle’s fuel tank to burn as blended fuel. One gallon
of used oil equals 1 gallon of JP–8. Engine performance
is sustained, a large waste stream is reduced or eliminated,
and used oil handling requirements are cut. The replacement
filters, which must be handled as a hazardous waste, are the
only recurring cost.
Kinnevan saw the Army using Oil-CATs during a visit to Camp
Eagle in Bosnia in 2004. With more research, he found that
they have been used effectively at Fort Drum, New York, Fort
Lewis, Washington, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Irwin,
California. After further study, Kinnevan made some recommendations
on how to make the Oil-CAT more user-friendly to Soldiers in
Working with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Kinnevan helped
draft an operational needs statement (ONS) for fuel-oil blenders
that would be suitable for the CENTCOM area of operations.
The ONS was endorsed by the Engineer School and the Army Combined
Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The Oil-CAT pays for itself in a short period of time. A unit
costs around $3,000, which includes sufficient filters for
approximately 1 year of use. Other benefits of using the Oil-CAT
include the following—
• It supports the Army Strategy for the
Environment’s goal of zero-footprint base camps for the
Vehicle emissions after oil is processed meet Environmental
Protection Agency standards when the oil is blended with diesel
or JP–8 in percentages of 7.5 or less.
• Its construction is relatively simple, making it easy to use.
Fuel-oil blending is not to be confused with adding lubricants
such as motor oil or transmission fluid directly to the
fuel tank. Reports from the field indicate that this has
been done to offset the reduced lubricity of JP–8
fuel. This practice, which is prohibited by the Army, is
not the same as fuel-oil blending.
Blending used oil in an area of operations such as Iraq
would not only save time and money but also could save
the lives of Soldiers who would otherwise be engaged in
the dangerous task of used oil disposal.
Lieutenant Colonel Albert M. Vargesko,
USA (Ret.), is a Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel,
Leadership and Education,
Personnel, and Facilities (DOTMLPF) Integration Specialist
in the Directorate of Environmental Integration at the Army
Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has a bachelor's
degree in geography from Indiana University of Pennsylvania
and a master of military art and science degree from the Army
Command and General Staff College.