SERDP has launched a challenge to develop aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) alternatives for Department of Defense (DoD) use in fighting fuel fires. Challenge submissions will advance the replacement of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) present in legacy AFFF firefighting agents.

Individuals and firms of various sizes are able to participate by submitting innovative formulations that can match the capabilities of legacy AFFF. Participants must demonstrate the capabilities of their formulations by performing a small pan fire extinguishing test. The entry on explains the requirements, and this video also walks through each step of the process. The deadline to submit demonstrations is September 30, 2021. Challenge winners may be awarded cash prizes up to $10,000. Successful submissions may also receive additional research and development funding.

In order to perform the demonstration, submitters must have the correct protective equipment, test materials and facilities or they will risk disqualification. The official challenge guidance provides greater detail on safety requirements, goals and testing procedures. The submissions will be assessed on physical properties of the foam, fire performance characteristics, and potential environmental impacts.

This challenge is part of the DoD’s effort to replace legacy AFFF in firefighting foams, as AFFF formulations contain PFAS that pose environmental and human health concerns. Since 2011, SERDP and ESTCP have supported the research and development to improve understanding of occurrence, fate and transport, remedial treatment options, and ecotoxicity at AFFF-impacted sites, as well as next generation PFAS-free foams.