Fluorine-Free Hybrid Surfactants for Fire-Fighting Foams

EPA Contract Number: 68D02037
Title: Fluorine-Free Hybrid Surfactants for Fire-Fighting Foams
Investigators: Luebben, Silvia D.
Small Business: TDA Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: April 1, 2002 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Nanotechnology , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , SBIR - Nanotechnology , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Recent studies have shown that certain fluorosurfactants are toxic to aquatic life and tend to accumulate in the blood of animals and humans because they are persistent chemicals. As a consequence of this discovery, 3M decided to phase out some of their fluorosurfactants in May 2000. Among the phased-out products are 44 fire-fighting foams and foam components. At the present time, there is no replacement for these products. The fire-fighting industry is stocked with materials that have been phased out and that, sooner or later, need to be replaced. Many of the foam concentrates sold today still contain fluorinated surfactants, but they are chemically different from those that have been phased out. Their toxicity and persistency in the environment are not well established and still are under investigation, and their presence in the future market is unsure. Therefore, the fire-fighting industry has an urgent need for new environmentally friendly foaming agents and foam stabilizers that will replace the phased-out fluorosurfactants.

The objective of this Phase I project is to investigate the surface-active properties of TDA Research, Inc.'s (TDA) proprietary additives in water, and to evaluate their use as components of fire-fighting foam concentrates. Preliminary experiments have shown that TDA's additives form very stable low-density aqueous foams upon mixing with water and air. If this project proves successful, TDA's additives will find immediate application in foam concentrates for fire fighting. Once their properties are established, TDA's additives could be used in many industries including food, cosmetics, colorants, paper, textiles, detergents, coatings, and personal care products.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, fluorosurfactant, hybrid surfactant, fire-fighting foam, foam stabilizer, bioaccumulate., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Environmental Chemistry, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Analytical Chemistry, New/Innovative technologies, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, Engineering, environmental sustainability, fluorine free surfactants, hybrid surfactants, innovative technology, sustainability, innovative technologies

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • SBIR Phase II:

    Fluorine-Free Hybrid Surfactants for Fire-Fighting Foams