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Study of the Ignition Inhibiting Properties of Compressed Air Foam.



Daniel M. Madrzykowski


This report describes an initial step to quantify the effectiveness of water-based compressed air foam (CAF) generated with a synthetic hydrocarbon-based surfactant. Two series of tests were conducted with the synthetic hydrocarbon surfactant based CAF: ignition retardation tests and mass retention tests. The ignition delaying capability of the foam was twice that of water when protecting a T1-11 plywood surface irradiated from an external source in the range of 15 kW/m2. The mass retention test, conducted on T1-11 plywood siding, exhibited an initial retention efficiency for the foam of approximately 20 times the efficiency of water. This type of foam may have potential for improving performance of fixed fire suppression systems, such as residential sprinkler systems. Further study is recommended to generalize the results of these tests and to quantify the extinguishing capabilities of the CAF relative to water.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 88-3880
Report Number


compressed air foam (CAF), foam, foam generator, ignition inhibiting, mass retention, residential sprinkler systems, retention efficiency, surfactants


Madrzykowski, D. (1988), Study of the Ignition Inhibiting Properties of Compressed Air Foam., NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created October 3, 1988, Updated November 10, 2018