Synovision In the News  –  Army Times, May 2009

Foam to cut fuel costs, regulate weather

by Kris Osborn, Staff Writer  /  Posted: Saturday May 2, 2009 8:24:24 EDT
As the Army prepares to build more forward-operating bases in Afghanistan, it is planning to install millions of square feet of foam insulation in tents across the country to save fuel and make living conditions more comfortable, service leaders said.

"We have a surge ongoing right now," said Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson, the operations and logistics readiness director, Army G-4. "We will build additional U.S. and coalition installations there. There is a tremendous requirement for additional temporary structures."

More bases are needed because of the increased troop levels and the difficulty in supplying forward units in the rugged terrain with few roads.

As tents go up in Afghanistan, the Army is moving quickly to put foam insulation in them as well as existing tents. The commercially available foam is designed to save fuel and improve conditions inside the tent by keeping tents warmer in cold weather and reducing the heat coming in during hot weather.

"In Iraq, we've [insulated] 1,200 tents, which is about 5.5 million square feet. This is already saving us $2 million a day," Anderson said.

In Afghanistan, a $29 million contract that was let in January will provide insulation for about 500 or 600 tents or temporary structures, Anderson said.

Synovision and Honeywell are among the vendors providing the foam, Army officials said.

"It is the foam that has been around in the U.S. housing history for 70 to 80 years," he said. "That is [a] low-technology solution with an incredibly high payoff."

In Iraq and Kuwait, foam lessened the need for convoys and cut the amount of fuel delivered to generators.

The Army began buying foam for its tents after the Army Developmental Test Command found it safe for the use in April 2007, Anderson said.

Anderson said the foam lowered the temperature in tents in Iraq by 22 degrees.

"I literally had a gym manager almost in tears thanking us for putting foam in his installation. It was the gym at Camp Victory," Anderson said. "Imagine eight air conditioners running full blast to get the temperature inside the tent down to 92 degrees. You put the foam on and you go from eight air conditioners running full blast to two, and the temperature goes from 92 degrees to 70 degrees."

One analyst said the Army's foam project will directly affect soldier's efforts in combat.

"When it comes to the well-being of the troops, this is as important as new body armor or having UAVs flying overhead," said Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank. "The real importance of this is if you can manage the environment and you can also reduce infrastructure demands. This means fewer convoys and less vulnerability to IEDs."