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Shanghai Experts Make Firefighting much Safer

Feb 14, 2017     Email"> PrintText Size

SHANGHAI scientists have developed a new nanostructured material which can be used to make highly flexible and fire-resistant clothing.

The nanomaterial will be safer and more eco-friendly than material previously used to make fire-resistant fabric such as asbestos.

Practical applications of nanostructured materials have been largely limited. The latest application has been developed by a research team led by Professor Zhu Yingjie from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The material called hydroxyapatite, which is also a component of human bone and tooth, has high biocompatibility and high thermal stability. But it is also fragile.

After years of research, Zhu and his team developed a more flexible and durable nanostructured hydroxyapatite material — "ultralong hydroxyapatite nanowires".

"But as with many other nanostructured materials, the practical applications have been largely limited by the difficulties in controllable and scaled-up synthesis," said Zhu, adding the nanowires can be easily tangled.

The latest technique developed by Zhu’s team makes randomly distributed nanowires rapidly self-assemble into nanoropes with a highly ordered structure, which can be further made into flexible and fire-resistant textiles.

"Our latest findings make the scaled-up synthesis not only possible but also controllable," Zhu said. "From Nano scale to micrometer scale and then to macro scale." According to a paper from Zhu’s team, the nanomaterial used for the preparation of the hydroxyapatite textiles is stable up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

The city’s fire department no longer uses asbestos, due to the potentially fatal health risks. It uses Nomex clothing from DuPont. With the commercialization of Zhu’s latest development, the new material is expected to provide a domestic alternative. (Shanghai Daily)

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(Editor: CHEN Na)

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