Very effective fire retardant is also BAD for the Environment
Congress directed FAA to find a GREENER alternative
Unique Indoor Research Unit built at FAA Hughes Technical Center
The aviation industry had developed an effective method of extinguishing an aircraft fire. There have been many instances, well documented by the media, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) teams have attacked a blazing fire with foam in support of the passengers being rescued.
Unfortunately, research determined that the PFAS-containing firefighting foam is responsible for the contamination of drinking water of millions of Americans across the country.
Congress, after states and communities lobbied the Hill, enacted the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 which directed the safety organization to stop requiring the use of fluorinated chemicals in aircraft firefighting foams within three years. Thus, the William J. Hughes Technical Center built this unique research facility.
With the commissioning of this new lab, our vision remains firmly fixed on the future and how we can best prepare to meet the challenges ahead,” said Hughes center Director Shelley Yak. “The Technical Center’s researchers and facilities continue to address aviation-based issues of greater passenger safety and a cleaner environment while maintaining our global standard of excellence.”
The FAA completed construction and opened a new indoor fire research facility in December to conduct performance tests of potential replacement fire extinguishing agents.
“The FAA completed construction and opened a new indoor fire research facility in December to conduct performance tests of potential replacement fire extinguishing agents.
The work conducted in this new $5 million, 2,500 square-foot facility will support research on fluorine-free firefighting foams.
The fully enclosed fire-test facility will eliminate weather related variables in testing and enhance data collection capabilities. It will also contain and collect the byproducts of fire testing chemicals and prevent any contamination of the surrounding area and ground water, allowing for more frequent and efficient testing.
Construction of the new facility started in November 2018 and FAA researchers began testing this month.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the agency to stop requiring the use of fluoridated chemicals in aircraft firefighting foams within three years. Fluorine-free foams on the market today do not match the performance of their fluoridated counterparts.
The current firefighting foam is a highly effective combatant to jet fuel fires, but it has also generated concerns over potential environmental and health impacts. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a potentially hazardous group of chemicals found in current firefighting foams used at airports.”
With this “laboratory” fully operational, it is hoped that an alternative which is both conducive to extinguishing aircraft fires and does not harm the environment.
So hopefully, these pictures will no longer be seen in nature.
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