Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), an agent utilized in aircraft hangar fire suppression foam systems, sees widespread use due to its ability to effectively suppress fires. Currently, Department of Defense (DoD) policy requires periodic aircraft hangar fire suppression foam system nozzle discharge checks ensuring that the fire suppression foam delivery system remains operational. These foam system discharge checks generate significant amount of foam laden wastewater. Despite its wide use and effectiveness, AFFF poses an environmental concern and raises questions about its long-term continued use. The environmental concerns are fish toxicity, biodegradability, treatability in wastewater treatment plants, and nutrient loading when foam laden wastewater reaches natural or domestic water systems.

The objective of this project was to demonstrate and validate an innovated application of aircraft hangar fire suppression foam system nozzle discharge checks to reduce and or eliminate generated foam laden wastewater at DoD activities.

Technology Description

The technology utilizes a surrogate fluid in lieu of the AFFF concentrate, non-intrusive flow meters (clamped onto the external piping system) measuring the fire suppression piping system and nozzle discharge flow, and the recorded flow data was compared to the theoretical piping and nozzle flow. A retrofit module design provided the isolation of the AFFF concentrate from flowing into the aircraft hangar fire suppression foam system and re-piped that portion of the piping into the AFFF concentrate piping. The technology demonstration was conducted at Hangar 12 at Arizona Air National Guard, Tucson, Arizona, and Building 5069 Corrosion Control Hangar at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Demonstration Results

This technology eliminated the generated foam laden wastewater and required minimal training and use. It provided both DoD activities a tool for eliminating foam laden wastewater from periodic aircraft hangar fire suppression foam system nozzle discharge checks, while verifying the fire suppression foam delivery system. Also, the technology is applicable within the private sector and may be used as a highly reliable and viable diagnostic tool trouble shooting the fire suppression foam system.

A disposal cost savings of $50,000 per aircraft hangar every two years was shown, which translate to over $25 million in savings every two years for DoD. Additionally over 4.6 million dollars will accrue in cost avoidance every two years because the facilities will not have to procure AFFF concentrate to replenish the fire suppression foam system nozzle discharge checks.

Implementation Issues

The Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and local pollution and waste minimization regulations apply to the NoFoam System technology. The technology eliminates generated foam laden wastewater from aircraft fire suppression foam system nozzle discharge checks with the use of water as the surrogate fluid. Also, no waste or by-products were generated from the aircraft hangar nozzle discharge checks. No new or additional permit was necessary.

The NoFoam System technology demonstration and validation were conducted on full-scale applications on U.S. Air Force National Guard and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft hangar fire suppression foam systems. The technology is widely applicable, not only within DoD, but also within the private sector. No proprietary technology is employed that would impact future NoFoam System procurement which consists of commercially available-off-the-shelf components such as, valves, pipes, pipe fittings, flow meters, and monitors.