Pneumatic, or air-pressure operated, cylinders are solving a problem with certain electrical systems at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.
“The destructive nature of (mustard) agent eventually eats through the wiring systems that drive the servo motors on the Cavity Access Machines,” said Tom Bailey, plant support specialist. “We can’t replace those wires, so we are faced with a situation where we are going to eventually lose the ability to process when connectivity is lost.”
The new pneumatic cylinders for the machines in the main plant’s Munitions Washout System were developed by Bailey and Huey Cheek, the cognizant systems engineer for the system.
The servo motors originally used a hydraulic system powered by electricity to raise and lower the bails that secure the munition when it is punched, Bailey said. He and other team members reviewed what was available in the room that could be used or modified to solve the servo motor problems.
The solution was pressurized air. “Air sources are plentiful in those stations, so we designed a pneumatic cylinder prototype to safely and consistently move the bails,” Cheek said. The resulting retrofit from electricity to pneumatics is designed for easy installation, minimizing the number Demilitarization Protective Ensemble entries into the toxic area of the plant.