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Field Studies For Military Recycling Programs

The recycling of hydraulic and lubricant fluids is gaining prominence within the military due to many considerations, including pollution prevention, conservation of natural resources, and the economic benefits associated with reconditioning the fluids.

Recent field studies confirm how important reconditioning of hydraulic and lubricant fluids is to the military's environmental and cost-containment concerns. Some representative examples follow:

Field Study #1

A reconditioning study was conducted in 1995 and 1996 by the Fuels and Lubricants Technology Team of the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command's (TACOM) Mobility Technology Center - Bevoir, to determine the feasibility of a hydraulic fluid recycling program. Specific fluids investigated in the study were MIL-H-46170 and MIL-H-6083 fluids. Data from successful field demonstrations of commercially available equipment were used to create a guide for recycling hydraulic fluid: Hydraulic Fluid Recycling User's Guide. The User's Guide provides background on the benefits of recycling, recommendations for the military approved recycling procedure for MIL-H-46170 and MIL-H-6083 fluids, and a listing of commercially available recycling units that have been approved for military use. The Hydraulic Fluid Recycling User's Guide indicates an expected savings from recycling hydraulic fluids from the U.S. Army alone of $2 million per year after taking into account all of the costs involved with recycling the fluid.

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Field Study #2

The U.S. Air Force (including Tyndall Air Force Base) has been investigating the efficacy of purifying hydraulic fluid (MIL-H-83282C) via the Pall spinning disk portable fluid purifier, for use in aircraft. Based on the investigation, a Memorandum For Record (MFR) was released in 1995 concluding that the spinning disk portable fluid purifier purified new and used hydraulic fluids without degrading the working properties of the fluid. The MFR went on to recommend a hydraulic pump wear study which currently is being conducted under the auspices of Fluids & Lubricants R & D, Materials Lab, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. After completion of the pump wear study, it is anticipated that MIL-H-83282, MIL-H-87257, and MIL-H-5606 will be added to the approved recycling list for the military.

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Conclusion

Vacuum dehydration fluid purifiers have been successfully used throughout the military for over thirty years for reconditioning hydraulic and lubricant fluids. Based on laboratory and field tests, such as those described above, documentation is now in place to allow military approved purifiers to recycle hydraulic fluids.

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