Shaping a greener future with BIOEX


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BIOEX explains how sustainability and efficiency can coexist in the fight against fires

The global emphasis on sustainable practices and environmental preservation is prompting a major paradigm shift across a broad spectrum of industries. Fire safety is no exception to this trend.

The traditional firefighting foams, once considered the industry standard, have now come under scrutiny due to their environmental impact.

This has led to a growing demand for environmentally conscious, sustainable alternatives, marking the advent of a new era in fire safety.

Against this backdrop, pioneering companies like BIOEX are emerging as leaders, showing that it is possible to rethink the status quo and craft innovative solutions that marry effectiveness with sustainability.

From its inception in 1998, BIOEX has championed the cause of environmentally friendly fire safety solutions.

They were among the first to introduce fluorine-free foams in the industrial fire service market, establishing a new standard for fire extinguishment and burnback resistance.

We sat down with Clémence Franclet from BIOEX to understand their journey, the ethos that drives their innovation, and their vision for the future of fire safety.

Franclet talks about the challenges and opportunities that come with a transition to more sustainable fire safety practices, as well as BIOEX’s notable contributions to this cause, including their groundbreaking products ECOPOL 3N and ECOPOL 3 Premium UL.

Can you tell us about BIOEX’s journey in the fire safety industry?

BIOEX was founded in 1998 within the LEADER Group. The name of the company means BIO EXCTINCTION.

From its beginning, BIOEX goal has been to provide efficient, environmentally friendly solutions to extinguish fires to save lives and property.

BIOEX is the pioneer in fluorine-free foams, introducing the first multipurpose fluorine-free foam in the industrial fire service market in 2002: ECOPOL was born.

BIOEX uses its extensive experience and comprehensive long understanding of industrial fire risks, to provide eco-friendly foams for efficient fire extinguishment and burn-back resistance.

Since 2002, we have been developing a wide range of fluorine-free foams effective on class A and class B hydrocarbon and polar solvent fires, are and certified under international standards, such as EN1568, UL162, LASTFIRE, IMO, ICAO and more.  

We have helped transition many customers worldwide, including fire brigades and departments, oil companies, chemical industries, airports and military forces, to fluorine free foam.

We have conducted thousands of fire tests on multiple fuels, with different application methods and equipment to prove that our fluorine-free foams can achieve similar or better results than fluorinated foams.

To meet the increasing demands for fluorine-free foams, BIOEX, has expanded, and recently moved into new facilities in France.

Built to the latest standards, the production, lab and storage capacities have been increased.

Fluorinated and non-fluorinated production lines are separated to guarantee environmentally friendly products, free of fluorinated compounds and cross contamination.

Can you explain how your products align with your commitment to ecological responsibility?

BIOEX designs efficient products to control the fire quickly, and limit fire damages and loss.

Additionally, BIOEX range of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) free products are environmentally friendly.

They are made of bio based raw materials to limit the impact of foam spreading into the environment.

They do not contain fluorinated surfactants, nor siloxane.

Those firefighting foams are biodegradable and do not persist in the environment.

Part of our range of product is GreenScreen certified, the first ecolabel for firefighting foams.

What drove the development of your recent products, ECOPOL 3N and ECOPOL 3 Premium UL?

Our team of engineers and PhDs is constantly developing and improving processes of searching for new raw materials with lower impact on the environment and testing new efficient formulations.

Our latest formulations do not contain fluorinated surfactants.

Our lab team also works on reducing firefighting foam viscosity to optimise foam mixing equipment compatibility and to avoid any issue when mixing the foam.

How do the properties of ECOPOL 3N combat hydrocarbon fires effectively?

ECOPOL 3N forms a foam blanket made of thousands of bubbles, which spread over the flammable liquid.

The foam blanket has enough fluid to seal the fuel on fire.

It makes a physical barrier between the fuel and the surrounding air, enough thickness to block fuel vapours and oxygen supply.

Depending on the nature of the fuel, the foam blanket offers cooling features that also contribute to the extinguishment process.

The firefighting foam is applicable by direct and indirect application, avoiding foam blanket contamination by the fuel fire.

ECOPOL 3N robust foam blanket offers a long drainage time to ensure any residual fuel does not re-ignite.

This class B fluorine-free foam offers similar performances to traditional Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) 3%.

How does the compatibility of ECOPOL 3N with existing equipment benefit your customers?

ECOPOL 3N viscosity is like most AFFF 3%, that is to say, liquid.

This requires no change on foam proportioner equipment and settings.

It makes the transition easier from traditional fluorinated foams to fluorine-free foams.

What sets ECOPOL 3 Premium UL apart in its efficiency on different types of fires?

ECOPOL 3 Premium UL is a Synthetic Alcohol Resistant Fluorine-Free Foam (AR-FFF).

This multipurpose foam is efficient on several fuels (alcohol, ethanol, acetone, methanol and so on) and is applicable at 3% on hydrocarbon fire, and 3% polar solvent fires, as well as class A fires.

ECOPOL 3 Premium UL is UL 162 listed.

The formulation of this pseudoplastic foam has low viscosity.

This gives it a significant advantage and makes it easy to mix with most of foam equipment.

What is your vision for the future of firefighting foams, given the trend towards SFFFs?

The fire industry is globally moving towards the transition to Fluorine-Free Foam.

Some in many different fire service industries have already chosen to use environmentally friendly foams and have been using them for their fire protection for decades.

The speed of the global transition mainly depends on the regulation on the country/area and the type of activity.

By doing numerous fire tests and data collection, high quality fluorine-free foams have proven that they are effective on fires, on several fuel types with different discharging and mixing equipment.

They offer similar fire performances as with traditional AFFF foams.

What are your thoughts on the global shift to fluorine-free foam in fire safety practices? How are you helping clients manage the transition to fluorine-free foam?

Since 2002, BIOEX has been supporting its customers with the transition from traditional foams to fluorine-free foams.

We support fire departments and brigades, industries, airports, ships and fire engineers in this transition, worldwide.

The implementation of fluorine-free foam will necessitate careful consideration as a project to undertake.

This process will involve various tasks such as remediation, emptying, cleaning, and disposal.

Adequate time and training will be required to ensure a smooth transition before the regulations enforce its prohibition.

BIOEX gives advice to choose the best product suited to their fire risks and fire equipment.

We also provide service partnership to dispose of AFFF, clean trucks and equipment and fill with fluorine-free foam.

Then, training is also key to master application techniques and firefighting tactics with these F3s.

BIOEX distribution network offers foam availability and stocking locations worldwide.

How do you foresee the balance between environmental responsibility and firefighting effectiveness in the future?

Fluorine-Free Foams can offer similar fire extinguishment performances, and burnback resistance capabilities as traditional AFFF/AFFF-AR foams.

Different application techniques and foam blanket density will be critical in ensuring successful use of these foams. In a nutshell: training and re-training are essential factors with F3s. BIOEX foam performance is certified under international standards (UL, EN, IMO, LASTFIRE, ICAO…).

Fluorine-free foam concentrates are easily biodegradable. GreenScreen ecolabel certified that they are PFAS-free and free of other harmful chemicals.

BIOEX range of fluorine-free foams offer an answer to combine firefighting effectiveness and environmental considerations.

This exclusive article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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