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Dr. Sthamer - Hamburg
German Foam Maker Pursues New Challenges
Volume 23, No.2

Throughout the 20th century, a Hamburg, Germany, based fire foam manufacturer staked out a position as a leading innovator in fire fighting. Known simply as Dr. Sthamer - Hamburg, the company continues today to push the technical envelope with regard to what modern fire foam can achieve.

Sthamer's products include Sthamex AFFF 1, 3 and 6 percent, Moussol APS Alcohol Resistant AFFF 1x3, 3x3 and 3x6 percent, Moussol APS LV (Low Viscosity) Alcohol Resistant AFFF 1x1, 1x3 and 3x3 percent, Foamousse Protein Foam 3 and 6 percent, Fluor-Foamousse Fluoro-Protein Foam 3 and 6 percent, Foamousse FFFP 3 percent and 6 percent & Foamousse FPPP-AR 3x6 percent foam concentrates, as well as specialist foams developed in partnership with our customers for special applications.

The new challenge for Sthamer is alcohol-resistant foams that are effective in battling ethanol fires, said Jan Knappert, international sales director for Dr Sthamer.

"As you are aware, because ethanol is an alcohol, it literally eats traditional AFFF fire foam," Jan Knappert said. "It can be quite aggressive. Companies such as Shell and BP are making a huge investment in ethanol plants in Europe and the U.S. We are working with them closely to develop specific products for ethanol fires."

The company plans to demonstrate its latest product, Moussol APS LV1x1, a state-of-the-art high performance low viscosity alcohol-resistant AFFF foam during the 23rd annual Industrial Fire World Emergency Resp-onders Conference and Exposition, April 28 through May 2, in Beaumont, TX. The new foam has an induction ratio of one percent for hydrocarbon fuels and one percent for polar solvents/alcohols. It is also freeze protected to -13 degrees F, and was recently LAST-fire certified during live fire tests at the Fire Test School, Asturias, Spain.

"I know that there are some questions being asked by the fire authorities in America about alcohol-resistant foams and its ability to fight ethanol fire, we are rising to the challenge to develop effective efficient products" Jan Knappert said."

Dr. Sthamer - Hamburg is Germany's only privately owned manufacturer of fire fighting foam. After four generations, the company is still the property of and actively managed by the Sthamer family. In January 1886, chemist Dr Richard Sthamer founded a chemical company on the river Bille at the same site where the company is located today.

In the 1920s, the company began experimenting with the use of plant derived saponins in a variety of products from cough mixtures and soft drinks to fire fighting foam. Shortly thereafter, Sthamer introduced its own line of fire extinguishing foam concentrates.

"Those were the protein days," Jan Knappert said. "We developed an additive that stabilizes the protein so that you can actually use protein foam for fire fighting. We owned a patent on that for many years."

The trend toward innovation continued into the 1950s. Sthamer developed a synthetic alcohol-resistant foam, essentially the first polymer-film-forming product on the market. Unfortunately, it was ahead of its time.

"We developed and patented the first alcohol-resistant foam, but we didn't sell much of it," Jan Knappert said. "When the patent lapsed, 3M picked up the process and came out with AFFF/ATC Lightwater?."

Today, Sthamer reports annual earnings in excess of $30 million. Major customers include Chev-ron, Shell, Texaco, BP, Marathon and Total Oil.

"We have a huge a contract with the Port of Rotterdam," Jan Knappert said. "We protect all of the port and petrochemical facilities with our Moussol APS alcohol-resistant foam. We maintain a stockpile there and can also deliver what is needed in an emergency."

Nearly 400 tons of foam concentrate is stockpiled at Dr Sthamer's Hamburg facility and used to replenish foam stockpiles across Europe.

"Recently, we had a huge fire involving a refuse recycling plant in Herbertingen, Germany," Jan Knappert said. "There were customers in the local mutual aid group that responded to the emergency call. We then delivered 150 tons directly from our stock holding within 24 hours to fight this fire and replenish each customer's depleted stock holding. We consider our 24 hour Emergency Service as a normal part of our customer service business."

All Dr Sthamer products are independently certified to European Standard EN1568 and many of our products are certified for Marine use with Classification Societies like Lloyds, DNV, BV etc.?

Dr Sthamer products will soon be available in the U.S., with the company now involved in obtaining UL listings.

"With regard to quality, we compete with the worlds premium fire foam suppliers" Jan Knappert said.

Sthamex, Sthamex AFFF, Moussol APS, Moussol APS LV, Foamousse, and Fluor-Foamousse, are all registered trademarks of Fabric Chemischer Praeparate von Dr Richard Sthamer GmbH and Co KG, trading as Dr Sthamer - Hamburg.

 
 

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