Aqueous Based Automatic Fire Extinguishing System
Navy SBIR 2013.2 - Topic N132-085
MARCOR - Ms. Elizabeth Madden -
Opens: May 24, 2013 - Closes: June 26, 2013

N132-085 TITLE: Aqueous Based Automatic Fire Extinguishing System

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Ground/Sea Vehicles


OBJECTIVE: The development of an aqueous based, automatic, fire extinguishing system concept that provides protection to mitigate injuries from both short duration internal fires and longer duration external fires thereby allowing occupants to egress or be rescued.

DESCRIPTION: Military vehicles may be exposed to external fires (fuel tank, tire, and/or engine) caused by Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonation. Although external, these long burning fires quickly envelop the vehicle and result in significant heating of the cab and injury to the crew, especially if incapacitated or unable to egress. Vehicle crew cabs attacked by Field Expedient Molotov (FEM) cocktails or fuel spray generated from hydraulic ram within a damaged fuel tank, produce internal fires as well. These short duration fires typically cause severe burns to the crew within seconds of exposure and are also prone to reflash. Current military vehicle (Ref 1) automatic fire extinguishing systems are designed to react quickly to internal crew cab fires and mitigate crew injury by displacing oxygen from the crew cab. The protection provided by these systems is not optimal because it is short in duration, typically utilizes agents with toxic byproducts, and affords no protection to incapacitated crew members from long burning external fires.

A vehicle integrated aqueous based automatic fire extinguishing system is required that provides 1) an instantaneous reaction to mitigate injury from short duration internal fires (those produced by Molotov cocktails and fuel spray fireballs), 2) a long enough reaction that continues to coat the crew and cool the cab to mitigate second degree burn injuries from long duration external fires (those produced by fuel tank, tire, and/or engine crew cab fires as a result of IED attack), 3) functional operation in all vehicle orientations, 4) discharge immunity from an outside radiation source and 5) can operate in all environmental conditions. By providing long duration protection, the aqueous based automatic fire extinguishing system would also mitigate injuries from fires that result from re-flash while giving crew members additional time to egress or be rescued from the burning vehicle. While there are technology solutions employing aqueous based agents on the commercial market, to date, none have been able to demonstrate the additional requirement of being capable of preventing second degree burns. Cycling water mist discharge systems as well as technologies that employ efficient water droplet size, velocity, momentum, and spray geometry combinations to effectively cool occupants and prevent burns are examples of current state of the art technologies that appear to have merit for advancement (Ref 2-4). However, proposers are also encouraged to explore new and innovative approaches toward resolving this challenge.

The US Marine Corps is seeking innovative approaches toward the development of an aqueous based, automatic, fire extinguishing system for use in military vehicles. Proposed concepts should address any research and development necessary to enable the development of 1) aqueous agents that when heated, are able to minimize or eliminate byproducts that are harmful or toxic to the skin, lungs, and any other exposed body part; 2) a delivery system that, when exposed to both short duration internal fires and long duration external fires, provides up to 5 minutes of protection against 2nd degree burns; 3) crew casualty/injury criteria applicable to the proposed aqueous based system solution(s), and 4) test instrumentation and techniques applicable to measuring crew casualty/injury levels for the proposed aqueous based system solution(s) while keeping in mind the challenges created by steam production and wetting of the occupants (Ref 5).

PHASE I: Demonstrate the feasibility of the development of an automatically activated, aqueous based, fire extinguishing system for use in military vehicles that can protect personnel from injuries associated with both short duration and long duration fires. Proposed concepts will need to address any research and development efforts needed to enable the identification of crew casualty/injury criteria. Proposed concepts should address any potential chemical compositions, environmental and health risks, injury protection capabilities, and delivery systems as well as identifying the requirements for test instrumentation and any techniques applicable to measuring crew casualty/injury levels for the proposed concept. Provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based upon the result of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, develop a working prototype of the selected concept. The prototype will be evaluated in a realistic test environment using the identified casualty/injury criteria for aqueous based systems and the performance goals identified in phase I. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet the described the Marine Corps requirements. The company will also develop and validate any test instrumentation and techniques required for assessing the performance of an aqueous based fire extinguishing system. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to use in applicable military vehicles.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. Both the Program Manager Medium and Heavy Tactical Vehicles (PM M&HTV) and the Program Manager Light Tactical Vehicles (PM LTV) are actively pursuing an aqueous based upgrade/replacement of the dry chemical AFES systems currently installed on the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR), Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR), and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). Development of an aqueous based automatic fire extinguishing system prototype and associated crew injury/casualty criteria are part of a validated Marine Corps universal need statement and the technology developed will be utilized by the MTVR, LVSR, and HMMWV Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to meet this requirement. A significant outcome of this effort will also be the transition of this same technology to the OEM’s commercial vehicle product line, which includes crash and rescue firefighting vehicles. The company will also be expected to support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The aqueous based fire extinguishing technology developed can be applied to a variety of fire and rescue vehicles, commercial trucks, and residential buildings, providing injured or incapacitated occupants with additional protection against 2nd degree burns while first responders begin rescue procedures.

1. Oshkosh Defense: Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement.

2. Liu, Zhigang and Kim, Andrew K. "A review of Water Mist Fire Suppression
Systems - Fundamental Studies" Journal. of Fire Protection Engineering, 2000, pp 32-502..

3. Liu, Zhigang and Kim, Andrew K. "A review of Water Mist Fire Suppression
Technology: Part II - Application Studies" Journal. of Fire Protection Engineering, 2001, pp 16-42

4. Kim, A., Zhigang, L. "Fire Suppression Performance of Water Mist Under Ventilation and Cycling Discharge Conditions" 2nd International Water Mist Conference, 2002, pp 61-76.

5. Walter Reed Army Institute of Surgical Research: "Medical Evaluation of Non-fragment Injury Effects in Armored Vehicle Live Fire Tests: Instrumentation Requirements and Injury Criteria" Department of Respiratory Research Division of Medicine 1989.

KEYWORDS: aqueous; automatic fire extinguishing; IED fires; casualty criteria; crew injury; crew cab fires

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