Stopping blazing flames with... carbon nanostructures

Coating made of carbon nanomaterials give flame-retardant properties

Earth, water, air and fire

Despite the fact that we have come a long way since the Ancient Greece, there are circumstances under which the proposed elements, which were thought to explain the nature of matter, are a real threat to the human life. Flame-retardant materials are very important because the ability to stop the fire from spreading can save lives when people are stuck on an airplane or inside a car/house/etc., from which they cannot escape. To tackle this problem, halogenated chemicals are often added to the fire-resistant material, but they release toxic gases during combustion, which are one of the leading causes of death in fire accidents.

Adding fuel to the fire?

Although an idea to use carbon for stopping fire may sound counterintuitive, it was found to serve the purpose very well. Carbon nanotube coatings are flexible, easy to deposit onto a wide range of supports, but mostly importantly, they do not emit any halogen species, but only the oxidized forms of carbon. Our study has shown that a coating or free-standing sheet made from carbon nanotubes is superior to other flame-retardant materials available on the market such as Nomex or Twaron. We believe that their flexible and lightweight nature could make this solution advantageous in many branches of life for instance as an element of fire-fighter garment. Since they are durable and do not introduce excessive weight we can imagine them as parts of fire-protection systems for aircrafts, cars and other vehicles.

Read more: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016943321730822X