For over a year, RISE has been operating the joint project Testbed PFAS together with the Swedish defence sector.
The project invites companies, innovators, researchers and other players to test their solutions and products both in a professional laboratory environment as well as on contaminated areas. The project findings will contribute to society's need for realistic, sustainable and cost-effective after-treatment methods for PFAS contamination. The project also strives to identfiy new, alternative extinguishing agents and extinguishing methods.
The test activity in the project is fully underway. So far, about a hundred tests and evaluations have been fulfilled in the laboratories and fire hall. The next move is to extend the operation to further tests in laboratory scale and larger field scale tests on physical locations. On selected areas, solutions for the purification of PFAS-contaminated soil and water are tested. These tests are conducted in parallell with the large-scale testing of PFAS-free fire extinguishing methods.
"To date, RISE has undertaken approximately one hundred tests and evaluations of solutions within the two research tracks: Legacy and Future. The results are exciting", says project leader Tove Mallin.
She explains that Testbed PFAS is about to progress further tests and evaluations in laboratory scale. It will be followed by large-scale field tests. The tests are conducted both on contaminated ground and on fire test fields.
"Extinguishing attempts of liquid fires with PFAS-free alternatives have so far shown that these both work and extinguish the fire. But they do not work as fast as the extinguishing foam containing PFAS. In addition, the tested PFAS-free extinguishers tend to work differently on different types of fuels, where current extinguishing agents with PFASs are more versatile," says Tove Mallin.
The search for even more effective extinguishing methods continues. Testbed PFAS will continue for another four years, so Tove Mallin is hopeful that the continued tests will identify more alternatives to the environmentally hazardous fire foam containing PFAS.
The Swedish Air Force has made a decision to switch to extinguishing fluid that does not contain PFAS. The Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) has been commissioned to start purchasing a PFAS-free extinguishing agent to be used in the new rescue cars to be delivered at the end of 2022. FMV had been examining the possibility of using PFAS-free extinguishing agents for a long time. The investigation formed the foundation to the Testbed PFAS project. The data and conclusions are already taking on practical significance.
Read FMV's full press release on the mission to find PFAS-free extinguishing fluid.(in swedish)
In relation to purification techniques for soil and water contaminated with PFAS, the research has found an interesting and useful result.
"We have seen that different methods can complement each other and that a combination of different techniques may be required to solve different contamination situations", says project manager Tove Mallin.
"Some techniques work well for water containing a lot of particles and high levels of PFAS, while other methods work better on cleaner and less contaminated water. The project crystallises a palette of several techniques to be used in different locations with different conditions", she explains.
The research in Testbed PFAS continues. Now the large-scale tests stand in turn. The project leaders are looking forward to continued applications from companies wanting to test their extinguishing methods and purification techniques.
"We still welcome new testers! If your company has a solution, I encourage you to submit an application", concludes Tove Mallin.