This project's technical objective is to develop a novel approach for fighting gasoline pool fires based on fire-retardant additive releasing smart beads. The formulation developed will enable the replacement of per and polyfluorinated aqueous film-forming foams formulations currently used to meet environmental requirements and ensure Department of Defense personnel's safety at airfields and onboard ships.

This project aims to develop non-fluorinated, biodegradable water-dispersible polymer beads incorporated with selective fire-retardant additives. These beads can be used as additives for fluorine-free firefighting foams to enhance the firefighting performance. The aim is to develop firefighting products that meet the performance requirements specified in MIL-F-24385F, environmentally compatible, and nontoxic. The project team will also evaluate the efficiency of 28-ft2 pool fire-fighting performance and aquatic toxicity of the fire-retardant beads.

Technical Approach

In this project, a Class B fire-fighting formulation using fire-retardant additive incorporated smart beads dispersed in water will be developed. The smart beads will be designed to release the fire-retardant chemical immediately when the bead is exposed to fire. Smart polymeric beads will be synthesized incorporating fire-retardant chemicals. The loading-levels and kinetics of the chemical release upon thermal activation will be optimized by modifying the smart bead composition and preparation method. After reaching a certain optimization level, the beads will be mixed with PFAS-free surfactants and fire-fighting performance using a benchtop pool fire. The best performing formulations down-selected from the lab-scale tests will be evaluated using a 28-ft2 gasoline pool fire. The aquatic toxicity of the fire-retardant beads will also be evaluated using standard test methods.


The smart beads-based functional additives are expected to increase the fire-fighting performance for currently available PFAS-free firefighting foams. The approach will provide an alternative suppression mechanism to augment the traditional foam suppression.