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Battle Fuel Conditioner (BFC) for Commercial Gas Appliances in Field Kitchens


OBJECTIVE: Develop a technological solution for safely, reliably, and effectively utilizing battlefield fuels in commercial off-the-shelf gas-fired appliances in military field kitchens. DESCRIPTION: An objective of modern military field kitchens is to provide cooks with high quality, effective appliances to maximize capability, throughput, and flexibility to prepare the entire family of operational rations. The Army's legacy JP-8 fired appliances fall short, relying on inefficient burner units that subject cooks to excessive heat, exhaust, and noise. There are several possible solutions, including modernized JP-8 appliances and commercial appliances. Other Reasearch and Development efforts are developing improved JP-8 kitchen equipment, but will result in military-unique or highly modified commercial appliances with less than certain supportability. Commercial electric appliances are very effective, and have been employed in the Army's Force Provider kitchens and some Air Force kitchens. However, electric appliances are very power-hungry, and electricity comes at a high price for small contingency bases, where it is typically generated from JP-8. This is at odds with a pressing need to reduce the logistic burden of deployed forces and contingency bases, including energy and fuel. Commercial gas appliances are attractive from supportability, reliability, and energy cost perspectives if there were a way to fuel them, but bottled gases will never be considered a battlefield fuel. The purpose of this BFC topic is to address this challenge and improve the logistics of field feeding while providing military units additional flexibility with respect to meal preparation, appliances, and fuel sources. As an operational concept, BFC equipment is envisioned as relatively small devices, paired individually with a gas appliance, that convert battlefield fuel from an onboard supply into a gas that burns cleanly in the appliance. Target appliances include griddles, ovens, combi-ovens, and hot plates. Pairing one BFC device with each appliance promotes overall kitchen availability versus a single fuel conditioner for the entire kitchen, facilitates quick replacement with spares in the event of malfunction, and allows appliances to be more easily removed from the mobile kitchen platform and installed into a more permanent facility. It is expected that the appliances would be easily reconfigured for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) when it happens to be locally available in theater. Substantial fuel savings are expected compared to electric appliances powered by tactical generators. The BFC shall convert battlefield fuel into a gas or mixture that can be used directly in commercial gas-fired kitchen appliances with minimal modification (e.g., pressure regulation, orifices, fuel/air mixer). The BFC output must burn cleanly and safely in the appliance. BFC devices must be able to reliably start, stop, and modulate or turn down as necessary for their paired appliances, and should be suitable for hot and basic climates (-25 degrees F to 120 degrees F). Although fuel conditioning technologies are not mature for this scale or application, several candidate technologies have been demonstrated for JP-8 in fuel cell applications. Technological approaches include, but are not limited to, catalytic cracking, autothermal reforming, partial oxidation, and cold plasma reforming. One potential challenge for this application is the significant difference in Wobbe Index between LPG and typical syngases. Recognizing that trade-offs may have to be made, the following characteristics are desirable: minimal procurement cost (objective less than $1K) and size (objective less than 3 cubic feet per appliance), low power requirements (objective less than 50 W per 10,000 BTU/h gas output), good conversion efficiency (objective more than 60%), minimal modifications to appliances, high reliability, low maintenance, partially or fully self-powered operation, ability to integrate with a wide variety of appliances, and quick replacement with spares. PHASE I: Establish the technical feasibility of a system concept that meets the operational requirements stated in the topic description by conducting research to demonstrate that the approach is scientifically valid and practicable. Mitigate risk by identifying and addressing the most challenging technical hurdles in order to establish viability of the technology or process. Perform proof-of-principle validation in a laboratory environment, and characterize performance (including BFC output characteristics, conversion efficiency, power requirements, starting and stopping, turndown, longevity, gas interchangeability, and cold weather suitability) through experimentation with JP-8 fuel (or Jet A-1 as an acceptable surrogate) and representative gas burners. Address supportability, safety, and human factors concerns, and provide credible projections of size, weight, cost, and performance of a system suitable for fielding. The Phase I proposal shall detail a specific approach leading to a tangible proof of concept (i.e., it shall not be a paper study). It should provide performance metrics, including mass and energy balance, of current and projected capabilities, and key claims should be strongly substantiated, including citations, to ensure credibility. The Offeror should demonstrate knowledge and expertise closely related to the proposed work. PHASE II: Refine the concept and fabricate a prototype system(s) that meets all operational, effectiveness, and reliability requirements and is sufficiently mature for technical and operational testing, limited field-testing, demonstration, and display. Integrate and demonstrate with multiple commercial gas appliances. Provide user manuals, training, and technical support for Government demonstration of the technology in a relevant field kitchen environment. Address manufacturability issues related to full-scale production for military and commercial utilization. Observe strict attention to safety and human factors. PHASE III: The initial military application for this technology will be battlefield fuel conditioning system that facilitates efficient and supportable multi-service field kitchens, contributes to simplified acquisition, and provides the Warfighter with effective, efficient, and high quality gas appliances. The transition from research to operational capability will involve technology demonstration at representative sites, follow-on development work in coordination with Army Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems, and ultimately fielding as components of field kitchens. Potential commercial applications are more difficult to predict, but there are a number of potential spin-off applications for diesel and aviation fuel reforming, such as for powering fuel cells, reducing wetstacking in diesel generators, and using diesel in spark ignition engines. REFERENCES: 1) Detail Specification MIL-DTL-83133 - Turbine Fuels, Aviation, Kerosene Types, NATO F-34 (JP-8), NATO F-35, and JP-8+100 ( 2) DoD Food Service Equipment & Field Feeding Systems (
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