News Search


Fueling innovation: ‘Project Venom’ wins PACAF Spark Tank

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

A team of three 18th Wing Airmen took first place in this year’s Pacific Air Forces Spark Tank, earning $126,000 toward funding for their idea, “Project Venom” during the competition at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 7, 2022.

Out of six teams who pitched their ideas to top leadership at Spark Tank, an annual event providing funding for new ideas which directly enhance mission capabilities and readiness, Project Venom was chosen for its innovative and cost-effective design.

“Project Venom repurposes equipment that we have sitting in storage in a way that we can convert commercial fuel into military-grade fuel for aircraft anywhere in the world,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Yunker, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron section chief of fuels quality and compliance. “The impact this could have for the Pacific theater is huge, not only for Agile Combat Employment, but also in how we deploy, and how we get fuel to aircraft when we need it and where we need it.”

The idea for Project Venom was born out of necessity, Yunker explained. Last year, when essential additives were found missing from fuel that was required for an upcoming deployment, he was given three days to find a solution. Retrofitting unused supplies found in a truck shelter with a piece of equipment from the early 90s, he managed to manufacture an additive injector in time to fuel the mission.

Seeing his original design become a reality at bases PACAF-wide has been a rewarding journey, according to Yunker, who calculates that 18 venom kits will cost the price of two commercial off-the-shelf products with the same capabilities.

“We get told ‘do more with less’, but with this program we’re doing more with what we already have,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Espinoza, 18th LRS NCO in charge of the fuels environmental and safety office. “Going forward, it opens the door for us to further innovate and further expand… Innovation doesn’t have to be something new, it can be using something that exists, in a new way.”

From its first conception by Yunker, to winning Spark Tank, Project Venom’s success was a team effort, said Espinoza. Kadena Innovation Lab played a vital role in taking the project to the next level, offering a space to work as well as an established network of subject matter experts.

“The team is so much more than just us,” Espinoza said. “It’s a network of people reaching across 10 different time zones, across industry, across the civilian populace, across the military networks, making this project happen. There’s so many people who helped us along the way that should be standing here with us.”