A nice cold brew at work
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A cold brew at work sounds like something a supervisor wouldn’t get behind. In a few shops, however, a nice frosty one isn’t just encouraged, it’s required.
The 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron opened a cryogenic production plant June 16, 2017, to increase the supply of liquid nitrogen and oxygen available to shops that rely on those chilly fluids.
“The upgrade to the new plant has made our job a lot better,” said Airman 1st Class Olavio Bisneto, 18th LRS cryogenics production technician. “Before we opened, we received everything from off-base, so if anything were to happen and we couldn’t get what these units needed, we’d be in trouble. This takes away that guesswork.”
The plant is the only operational one of its type in the Air Force and brews up more than 1,200 gallons of brisk oxygen and 100 gallons of nippy nitrogen for more than 50 organizations across Okinawa each week.
Any organization that works with the cryogenics flight has a certain amount of funding set aside for the purchase of their frosty brews. The money goes directly back to maintaining the machinery and ensuring the plant pays for its own parts and servicing.
“Without us, units would have to spend more of their funds on the same amount of oxygen or nitrogen,” said Master Sgt. Donald Scott, 18th LRS NCOIC of cryogenics production. “When flying units, for example, can’t get as much liquid oxygen as they need, they have to start doing fewer flights. Fewer flights means less of the mission gets accomplished. We charge as little as possible so units get everything they need and we can keep running.”
Cryogenics technicians work with plain oxygen and nitrogen gases, exposing them to sub-zero temperatures. The drop in temperature chills the common gases out, turning them into nice, cool liquids, which can then be used to maintain oxygen levels in aircraft, help maintenance personnel ensure certain nuts and bolts are securely fastened or give medical units access to some of the cold stuff for their many health-related needs.
“Since we opened up the plant, we’ve stayed near maximum capacity for oxygen,” said Bisneto. “We keep it that way so we won’t ever run low when agencies need it. Pilots have to breathe to fly, so we make sure to have plenty on–hand, so their missions can keep going.”