The PHOSave project (Horizon 2020 SME Instrument), led by PROPHOS Chemicals will construct a pilot plant near Cromona, Lombardy, to recover and recycle phosphate from exhausted fire extinguishing powders. Over recent years, problematic chemicals in fire extinguishers have been largely replaced by phosphate based dry powders, considered as not posing environmental or health issues and effective in combating fire.
Phosphates are also widely used in water sprayed on forest and wildland fires, again because they are considered (see e.g. review Kalabokidis 2000) to have minimal health impacts and to generally not harm ecosystems. Prophos Chemicals is Italy’s only producer of dry fire extinguisher chemicals of all classes. Fire extinguishers have to be periodically emptied, overhauled, refilled and re-pressurised, to guarantee reliable performance in case of fire. The recovered phosphate will be recycled into the chemical industry or as fertilisers.