New Firefighting Application for Superabsorbents

BASF, a leading producer of superabsorbents, is continuing to expand its applications portfolio for these functional polymers. Its latest product is an innovative firefighting gel distributed worldwide by Astaris LLC, a leading provider of chemical firefighting solutions, under the brand name Phos-Chek® Focstop (in the United States under the brand name Phos-Chek® AquaGel).

“With Astaris, we have gained a highly competent partner who is the world leader in chemical firefighting solutions. Phos-Chek® Focstop is a new, high-performance and environmentally friendly product that is available to firefighters with immediate effect”, stated Dr. Martin Beck who is responsible for technical applications of superabsorbents within BASF’s global business unit acrylic monomers and superabsorbents. The advantage for BASF lies in “expanding the areas of application for superabsorbents beyond hygiene and in this way strengthening our specialties portfolio.”

Special superabsorbents can be mixed with water to form a gel that can either be applied as a protective cover against fire over homes, gardens or other terrain or used directly for firefighting. It is applied via suitable hoses or aerially from helicopters or planes. In the case of forest or bush fires, the gel can effectively protect neighboring homes or towns.

In contrast to conventional gels, Phos-Chek® Focstop does not leave an oily residue on surfaces after it has been applied. Another advantage is that it is delivered in powder form and therefore has a longer storage life and requires less inventory space than ready-mixed gels. Users simply mix the powder with water for a ready-to-use gel.

“This agreement exemplifies our tradition of teaming with ‘best of the best’ to provide firefighters with the safest, most effective products, the best service and a culture of technological innovation”, said Edward Goldberg, Phos-Chek® Business Director. “By working with BASF, we can offer what no one else can – the best products, guaranteed supply, and world class technological support.”

Technical superabsorbents are crosslinked polyacrylates and are marketed worldwide by BASF as a direct derivative of acrylic acid. Thanks to their capacity to safely absorb large volumes of liquid, superbsorbents are widely used in the hygiene industry. Special superbsorbents can also, for example, be used for plant-friendly water storage purposes to improve soil quality, to regulate moisture in upholstered furniture and as a water-blocking component in cable sheaths. The advantage for firefighting is that just a small volume of superabsorbents mixed with water form a gel. This aqueous gel offers effective and longer lasting protection because it does not seep away as quickly as water but instead adheres well to the surfaces in need of protection and can be easily removed later on by washing.

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