A Clean Tech Air Force By 2033: That’s the IAF’s Green Goal

In the past two years, the Israel Air Force has been undergoing a huge change for the greener, and is using clean technology from around the world to become a net-zero-energy air force by the year 2033.

With the dramatic increases in the prices of gas, water and electricity in the past few years, coupled with military budget cuts, the Israel Air Force has been doing everything possible to switch over to systems that will bring significant energy savings over the next few years and into the future.

The photovoltaic cells installed on an air force building. It provides all that building's electricity.

The photovoltaic cells installed on an air force building. It provides all that building’s electricity.

“Two years ago, it was hard to convince commanders that the IAF needed to become more environmentally friendly. Now they don’t need convincing,” says Capt. Bouganim, who has been heading the IAF’s revolutionary project Blue Going Green (blue is the official color of the Air Force) for the past few years.

“They’re also seeing that it’s a security benefit to use less and to be in control of our own energy sources,” says Corporal Rebecca Aviva Yasner, Cpt. Bouganim’s right hand at Blue Going Green.

A Cleaner, Greener Air Force

With the coordination of engineers in the fields of electrical, water, mechanical and fuel engineering, Capt. Bouganim and Cpl. Yasner take projects from the initial brainstorming phase all the way to seeing their projects implemented in air force bases across Israel.

The Blue Going Green initiative is made up of a few components. The first is with eco-friendly policy, requiring that all lights and air conditioners be turned off whenever possible. They also make sure all new Air Force buildings are built in a way that causes the least environmental damage and incorporates as many energy-saving concepts as possible.

Photovoltaic cells already installed at an Israel Air Force base.

Photovoltaic cells already installed at an Israel Air Force base.

The third component of Blue Going Green is integrating energy saving technologies into the Air Force. Capt. Bouganim and Cpl. Yasner investigate existing technologies and see if they could be used in the air force.  “I’m not looking at things that will save us a hundred shekels. I’m looking at things that will save us a million shekels,” Capt. Bouganim emphasizes.

A range of cutting-edge, clean tech projects are in the works and will be introduced into the air force in the near future.

Water Heating

Air force innovators are testing a new pump that applies green technology to heat water. The device works almost like a reverse air conditioner, taking in outside air and heating it up, which then heats up the water. The amount used in the trial stage alone equals an expected savings of 5 million NIS a year. Capt. Bouganim forsees a savings of 50 million NIS a year in 10 years with this technology.

Solar Power

In the first part of this trial, eight solar power grids were installed on several roofs in the air force. They provide all the electricity needs for the particular buildings on which they are placed. Another project being planned right now would be able to provide major air force bases much of their electricity needs.

Grey Water Recycling

 This project, currently in planning, would take the used water from sinks and showers and redirect it to be used again by toilets and for watering plants.

Natural Sewage Treatment

This project takes black water, the waste water from toilets, and puts it through a natural filtration system – an ecosystem of sorts comprised of different rocks, plants and sand – that filters the water without the use of chemicals. The filtered water is then repurposed for watering the plants and landscaping of the base.

Natural and Induction Lighting

This past year, the Natural Lighting project completed its trial phase at a major IAF flight hangar. Daylighting Devices were installed. Each daylighting device directs natural sunlight through a series of mirrors and a reflective tube into the hangar. Each daylighting device is as bright as 2.5 of the existing electric lights. For one hangar that would normally require 30 electric lights, now up to 40,000 NIS a year is being saved. By May 2014, daylighting devices will be installed at the many flight hangars in the Air Force.

In hangars where daylighting devices cannot be installed, the IAF will be switching over to induction lighting. Induction lighting is powered by a magnetic field and requires only half the energy of conventional electric lighting. Tens of thousands of systems will eventually be installed. By the end of 2014, this is expected to amount to a savings of 12 million NIS a year.

The IAF In 20 Years

Capt. Bouganim says his vision is for a “net zero air force”, a goal inspired by a similar initiative of the United States military. The idea is for the air force to eventually produce all of its own power, treat and recycle all its own waste and have independence from outside energy sources. He hopes to see the air force powered “not by diesel, but by the sun, earth and wind.”

With Blue Going Green leading the way, every ray of light and drop of water will be getting the IDF closer and closer to that goal.

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