Existing portable foam extinguishers generate fire-fighting foam at high pressures with the aid of an air aspirating nozzle. This system could encounter several limitations at the point of application such as poor foam quality due to the use of fire contaminated air for foam generation and insufficient momentum to reach the seat of fire. Research has shown that by incorporating compressed air into a portable foam system, the integrated foam system could generate superior quality foam with high momentum when properly installed with the right components. Several studies had been conducted on the extinguishing performance of compressed air foam systems on multiple fire types, both for small and large fires. Compressed air foam systems mitigate exposure of the operator to heat and provides faster knockdown of the fire plume as compared to air-aspirated foam because of its stronger stability and rheology. Since the expansion ratio of the foam can be regulated to combat specific fire types and sizes, compressed air foam systems can be utilized in protecting a variety of equipment of varied sizes. The aim of this study is to investigate the discharge characteristics of a portable compressed air foam at low pressure. For this study, the requirements of NFPA 10 and CAN/ULC-S508 for a new system were used to determine the feasibility of the system. The effect of air pressure on the expansion ratio of the foam was investigated with foam concentrate ranging from 2% to 4% for three different hoses with lengths of 1-m, 2-m and 3-m. Pressure used ranged from 1.72 bar to 5.52 bar. The 3% and 4% solution for the 2-m hose and 3-m hose exhibited similar trend of a rise and fall with pressure by generating fluid foam of medium expansion ratio in the range of 19 to 28. However, the expansion ratio of 3% solution and 4% solution for the 1-m hose increased monotonically with increasing pressure and generated wet foam of low expansion ratio in the range of 8 to 15. While low expansion foams are effective in extinguishing liquid pool fires, medium expansion foams are used for structural protection due to its slow drainage time and its ability to adhere to sloped, vertical, horizontal and slippery surfaces. Discharge range tests were conducted to investigate the horizontal projection of the foam from the nozzle at a height of 0.9m above the ground. The test was conducted in an open space with little interference of wind. Visual record of the maximum discharge range was taken at intervals. The foam from the 1-m hose projected from 1 m at 2.42 bar to 2.4 m at 5.52 bar while the foam from the 2-m hose projected from 1.8 m at 2.42 bar to 4.5 m at 5.17 bar. Likewise, the foam from the 3-m hose with an initial discharge of 1.85 m at 2.41 bar increased progressively to above 4.5 m at 4.83 bar. The tests demonstrated the relationship between pressure and the momentum of the foam, showing that an increase in pressure leads to an increase in the range covered. Furthermore, flow rates at different pressures were investigated using 3% foam solution with a 2 m hose. The flow rate of the foam ranged from 8 g/s to 20 g/s at 1.93 bar and 5.24 bar respectively, indicating linear progression with pressure. The flow rates correspond to application times of 244 and 102 seconds respectively for the 2-liter solution. Overall, all foams tested met the requirements of the CAN/ULC-S508 standard.

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3rd European Symposium on Fire Safety Science, ESFSS 2018
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Okunrounmu, O. (Oluwadamilola), Lhotsky, P. (Paul), & Hadjisophocleous, G. (2018). Discharge Characteristics of a Portable Compressed Air Foam System. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/1107/6/062007