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How DNA is a fire retardant

By Tim Sandle     Mar 16, 2013 in Science
Scientists have found an unusual property about DNA: it is flame retardant. The finding came about after a cloth was coated with DNA from herring sperm.
The study, where herring sperm DNA was extracted and coated onto the cotton cloth, was conducted at the materials scientist at the Politecnico di Torino (Polytechnic University of Turin), Alessandria Branch, in Italy.
The lead scientist, Giulio Malucelli, told Wired that "DNA can be considered as a natural flame retardant and suppressant. It could work also on other synthetic fabrics, or thin or thick plastic films."
According to the researchers, when DNA is heated, because it is rich in phosphates, the act of heating produces phosphoric acid. The production of the acid helps to replace water in cotton fibers with a flame-retarding residue.
Other chemicals in DNA, such a nitrogen, also help to inhibit combustion. This is because nitrogen produce ammonia, which inhibits combustion and interacts with the residue to form a protective shield over the cloth.
The new material could be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional flame retardants.
The study has been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
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