Fir0002 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], Wikimedia Commons


Every second counts in the event of a fire and to prevent fires or at least delay fire propagation. Many types of timber, plastics, fabrics and electronic devices are protected by fire-retardant substances which reduce product flammability.

Nanomaterials with fire-resistant power

In recent years the use of nanomaterials to produce fire retardant substances has increased more and more. To boost the fire-retardant power of these materials we use nanocomposites as surface coatings. In general, nanocomposites have 3 components: nanoparticles (50-100 nm of inorganic compounds such as Aluminium, Silicon, Phosphorus, Boron, etc.); a reactant; and an organic solvent (water, alcohol, etc.). These compounds are fire-resistant at very high temperatures.

This is particularly important for the timber industry as timber and timber products such as paper and cardboard obtained from it are made of cellulose, a highly flammable carbohydrate.

When fire is applied to paper protected by a fire-resistant nanomaterial coating, nanoparticles react with cellulose turning into carbon but without combustion during the process. This is due to the release of nitrogen, a fire-proof gas which removes oxygen from the surface, during the heating. As there is no oxygen on the surface, there is no combustion and therefore fire cannot spread.


Glazing, walls, fabrics, wood. These are currently used for fire protection in industry.