The objective of this Statement of Need (SON) was to identify and develop per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS)-free firefighting formulations that approach the performance characteristics detailed in the latest revision of MIL-PRF-24385 and can enhance fire-suppression performance across multiple scenarios. Proposals should have addressed development of a PFAS-free firefighting formulation that is effective under one or more of the following scenarios:
- Firefighting operations at extreme temperatures (as low as 32 degrees F and up to 125 degrees F)
- Firefighting operations involving various fuels to include Jet A and ethanol-free gasoline (threshold) and optimally, superior performance against mixtures of Jet A, ethanol-free gasoline, and polar solvents
- Firefighting operations with saltwater and freshwater
- Improved burnback resistance and vapor suppression (similar to MIL-PRF-24385)
- Increased fire extinguishing capability at low aspiration and expansion rates (similar to MIL-PRF-24385)
- Improved spreading coefficients that approach or exceed legacy AFFFs (similar to MIL-PRF-24385)
- Allow for use of concentrate in stored, premixed solutions (e.g. portable extinguishers)
- Provide concentrates that are compatible and can be mixed in tanks with other MILSPEC PFAS-free formulations
Proposals should address storability and compatibility with DoD equipment. In addition, the following specific issues are of interest:
- Identify, develop, and deploy functional additives and/or modifications of existing fire-fighting equipment to enhance the fire-suppression performance of mature and emerging PFAS-free fire suppressants. Functional additives should provide increased performance for currently available firefighting foams through foam enhancement or alternative suppression mechanisms, either while integrated with the foam concentrate or through a dual delivery.
- Determine the impact of gaseous fuel transport through the foam blanket.
- Develop alternative foam production methodologies that are compatible with current fire trucks and infrastructure in support of increased performance. In this case, proposals primarily focused on compressed air foams or ultra-high-pressure nozzles will not be considered under this SON.
Proposals should have also included a plan to conduct an appropriately-scaled Sustainability Analysis.1
Program Managers, installations, and warfighters across all services would benefit from enhancement of fire suppression performance. No currently available PFAS-free firefighting formulation meets all the fire extinguishment requirements in MIL-PRF-24385. New PFAS-free firefighting formulations will enable sustained manufacture and use of fire suppression technologies by meeting environmental requirements while maintaining equivalent performance to ensure safety of DoD personnel at installations and while deployed in extreme environments.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibits the use of currently approved, PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) beginning October 1, 2024 for all shore-based applications; however, none of the currently available, PFAS-free fire suppressants meet the stringent requirements of MIL-PRF-24385. In FY23, the Department of Defense will establish a new performance specification related to shore-based operations and as technology progresses, it is expected that additional requirements will be added as amendments to the specification. It isundesirable to increase the PFAS-free foam application rates due to environmental and equipment capacity concerns.
SERDP is currently funding research to develop PFAS-free firefighting formulations, but additional research and development is required to meet military firefighting requirements in extreme environments and with multiple fuel sources. For efficient fire extinguishment, several physical and chemical property requirements are specified, such as foam spreadability, foam quality, ability to cool fire, and ability to disrupt the fire. Current foam formulations rely on cooling, film formation, and limiting oxygen to the fire with a stable foam blanket. The ability of available PFAS-free firefighting formulations to extinguish liquid pool fires has been shown to rely primarily on bubble quality. Additional research is needed to determine the impact of vapor transport through or uptake in the PFAS-free bubble structure on overall performance against realistic fuel fires. These physical properties have not been rigorously studied at extreme conditions. Alternative foam delivery technologies could potentially enhance foam properties to enable PFAS-free foams to meet more stringent foam performance requirements.
The cost and time to meet the requirements of this SON were at the discretion of the proposer. Proposers submitting a Standard Proposal had to provide the rationale for this scale. The two options were as follows:
Standard Proposals: These proposals describe a complete research effort. The proposer should incorporate the appropriate time, schedule, and cost requirements to accomplish the scope of work proposed. SERDP projects normally run from two to five years in length and vary considerably in cost consistent with the scope of the effort. It is expected that most proposals will fall into this category.
Limited Scope Proposals: Proposers with innovative approaches to the SON that entail high technical risk or have minimal supporting data may submit a Limited Scope Proposal for funding up to $250,000 and approximately one year in duration. Such proposals may be eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project. The objective of these proposals should be to acquire the data necessary to demonstrate proof-of-concept or reduction of risk that will lead to development of a future Standard Proposal. Proposers should submit Limited Scope Proposals in accordance with the SERDP Core Solicitation instructions and deadlines.