KBR Air Innovations Unit

KBR, a leading provider of U.S. government cyber, military, and electronic security solutions, approached Air Innovations for help updating earlier-generation military trucks and utility vehicles into portable air traffic control systems. These humvees needed significant climate control system improvements to protect sensitive equipment and Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force personnel being deployed to emergency situations.

The Challenges

One primary challenge was to revamp the existing system to increase output significantly within the footprint of the vehicles. The current configuration included two environmental control units (ECU) within the humvee and an auxiliary unit being pulled behind, which utilized a high volume of power. Moreover, KBR required the redesigned solution to be retrofitted to technology that was several decades old. These improvements would also need to fit within an exact space and integrate into the overall system.

In addition to upgraded technology occupying exactly the same space, the Air Innovations solution would be required to tolerate exposure to extreme environments. The new systems would provide heating and cooling to emergency-response vehicles being airlifted to potentially rugged locations with temperatures up to 130℉.

Specialized controls were also central to the plan upgrades since the humvees would be operated by personnel wearing NBC suits.

Lastly, our engineers would need to ensure that the units adhered to stringent military requirements. (MIL Specs)

KBR Two Units

The Solution

Air Innovations re-designed and tested two ECUs that were integrated to the interior of each military and utility vehicle. In total, 44 units transformed 22 humvees into airports-on-demand. Output was increased by 50% in the same footprint, eliminating the need for an auxiliary unit to be pulled from behind, thus, saving on fuel and improving logistics. Re-thinking the solution was a combination of incorporating newer, more sophisticated, ruggedized components and integrating them thoughtfully into the less versatile, existing system.

To ready these mission-critical operations vehicles, the first step was to move the electric heater out of the discharge opening above the evaporator coils. Spreading out the heat—versus targeting it—made it easier to match the rate of evaporation. As a result, airflow was increased in the ECU and the heater ran more efficiently and required less power. The evaporator fan was replaced with the Continental motorized impeller, which also contributed to 50 to 60% improved CFM fixed airflow capacity.

An obsolete compressor was replaced with a current, more efficient compressor, lending improved performance and reliability. The newer compressor is also compatible with a current, more environmentally friendly refrigerant versus the obsolete one used in the previous ECU. The final component upgrade came in the way of the ebm-papst condenser fan, which facilitates much stronger airflow across the more restrictive condenser coil. The strength of the airflow is essential to maintaining a consistent temperature in the humvee no matter how extreme the ambient temperature.

The re-engineered ECUs also had to adhere to rigorous military (MIL) standards. For instance, Air Innovations utilized Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC) paint to make the exterior of the ECUs resistant to corrosion associated with exposure to rugged environments and hostile temperatures. CARC paint also prevents microbial growth that can further degrade metal equipment.

Air Innovations is honored to have worked with KBR to help deliver world-class solutions that will be relied upon by U.S. military entities in emergency response situations. The quieter, more robust vehicles will be deployed in life-saving relief efforts when natural disaster strikes and leaves communities vulnerable, as well as in military applications.

The Result:

Forty-four environmental control units that included the following:

  • Improved cooling and heating
  • Refrigerant R407C
  • Updated evaporator & condenser
  • Designed to withstand temperatures up to 130℉
  • Meets all Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force requirements

If you’re ready for a custom solution from Air Innovations, like these custom environmental control units, contact us by submitting a Project Inquiry or by calling 1-800-835-3268 today.

If you would like to see case studies for other industries, view our general case studies page. If you are interested in seeing more case studies for the semiconductor industry, look at the items below. We also have whitepapers available covering the aerospace industry, the semiconductor industry, and our Micro Environments product line. The whitepaper page can be found here.