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Blowing away danger: Buffalo turbine blowers used to uncover IEDs for the military.

As military vehicles roam the desert areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, they are in danger of running over and disturbing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) buried in the ground or along the roadside. Buffalo Turbine is providing a greatly needed defense tool for these military vehicles with its blower units, which help to uncover these hidden land mines.

The blower systems provided by Buffalo Turbine use a single-stage turbine to move all types of debris as well as drying wet surfaces. The turbine units were initially developed in the 1940s as a sprayer system to combat disease-carrying insects. Today, the sprayers are used by military bases, farmers, citrus growers, local abatement organizations and golf courses to keep bugs under control. The company also produces Monsoon units to suppress dust and control smoke and odor.

Included in Buffalo Turbine's blower series are the Cyclone KB3, Cyclone 8000 and Cyclone (2) (squared) models in addition to front-mounted units including hydraulically operated sys terns. The Cyclone KB3 features an electric start, V-twin Kohler Command Pro gasoline engine rated 23 hp and a wireless nozzle and throttle control. It can be towed or mounted in a utility vehicle or a truck bed and weighs 470 lb. It is offered with a series of nozzle options to suit an array of applications such as heavy, wet or matted-down debris; fine-tune blowing; and surface drying for golf courses, low spots and paved surfaces.


The Cyclone 8000 blower is a more compact unit weighing 360 lb. It is powered by a 12.75 hp Kohler CS or a Honda GX390 gasoline engine.

Buffalo Turbine's [Cyclone.sup.2] twin turbine blower incorporates dual turbine blowers for increased blowing capacity. It is powered by a Kohler Command Pro engine rated 40 hp and equipped with a two-barrel carburetor and heavy-duty air cleaner. It also features a wireless control system for throttle operation and 360[degrees] independently controlled nozzles.

The company also offers a Cyclone PTO model, which is driven off a vehicle's PTO through a direct-drive gearbox. The unit requires 20 PTO hp and weighs 240 lb.

In 2006, Buffalo Turbine was contacted by the U.S. military to provide its blower units to help uncover IEDs in the desert areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of initial testing, the military retrofitted the mounted blower systems to the front of military vehicles such as RG-31 armored vehicles and mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles.


As these vehicles make their way through the desert, the blower is used to blow a clean visible path for the vehicle to travel. As trash and sand is blown away, IEDs become visible, saving the vehicle from driving over or detonating the land mines and providing a safe passageway for the vehicle and following convoy of soldiers.

While Buffalo Turbine offers several commercial models of turbine blowers, the military has specified its Cyclone model to be powered by an 18 hp Kohler diesel engine. A rigid frame and custom electronic controls were also integrated into the military design. The wire cab control box has oil and battery monitoring lights and provides engine start and stop functions. It also adjusts engine speed and rotates the nozzle assembly 360[degrees] to allow for direct aim at targeted IEDs.

To meet the requirements of the military, Buffalo Turbine has developed a special mounting system for the Cyclone blower for easy adaption to a variety of military vehicle types. Special ballistic panels were designed and built by Composite Panel Solution to protect the fuel tank if an lED was to explode. A fire-suppressant material is encased in the multiple-layer honeycomb ballistic panel to reduce flash from a fuel explosion.

Buffalo Turbine has a continuing contract with the military through 2013. To date, the military has taken delivery of more than 200 units, mostly in Iraq. Most recently, the company has shipped Cyclone units to a number of U.S. military bases in an effort to train soldiers on how to effectively use the blowers prior to their deployment into actual combat.

Buffalo Turbine manufactures the blower and sprayer systems at its Springville, N.Y., headquarters.

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Author:Geske, Dawn M.
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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