Aqueous Film Forming Foams Based on Biodegradable Natural Surfactants and Additives

Dr. Tirumalai Sudarshan | Materials Modification Inc



Firefighting Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) used in the U.S. military, as well as in most civilian applications contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or other per and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) that could be  Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic (PBT) substances. The US Congress recently passed legislation (FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 [HR 302]), directing the Federal Aviation Administration to change its requirement that airports use firefighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals. While newer non-PFOA and non-PFOS fluorosurfactants have been introduced into the market since 2000, their toxicity and their persistence in the environment are not well established and still are under investigation. This necessitates the development of PFAS-free alternatives to current AFFF foams. The objective of this project is the development of non-fluorinated, biodegradable bio-derived film-forming composites that can be used instead of currently used firefighting foams that are polyfluorinated.

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Technical Approach

In this project, cellulose-based surfactants with natural firefighting additives will be formulated, and their physical and fire suppression abilities will be evaluated. The tests will include the evaluation of 28-ft² fire performance, spreading coefficient, aquatic toxicity, chemical oxygen demand, and bio-persistency.

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New PFAS-free formulations for AFFF developed in this project will meet the performance specifications of the fire extinguishing agent, based on MIL-PRF-24385F standard. The new chemicals will enable partial or complete replacement of polyfluorinated AFFF formulations currently used, in order to meet environmental requirements and ensure the safety of Department of Defense personnel at airfields and onboard ships.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Tirumalai Sudarshan

Materials Modification Inc

Phone: 703-560-1371