Shanghai researchers developed flame-retardant, “smart” wallpaper to keep homeowners safe and homes stylish.
Researchers at Shanghai’s Institute of Ceramics have developed a wallpaper that not only delay the spread of a fire but might call the fire department for you as well. The paper consists of fire-resistant materials including graphene oxide and hydroxyapatite nanowires. The combination enables the wallpaper to “sense” when heat is elevated in the area and activate an alarm. The researchers observed that the wallpaper will “be very desirable if it can simultaneously prevent the fire from spreading and send out alerts in a fire disaster.”
Although test papers in a promotional video are a dull, dark brown, the paper will be manufactured in a variety of colors just like other commercial wallpapers. “The smart fire alarm wallpaper can be processed into various shapes, dyed with different colors, and printed with [a] commercial printer,” the researchers wrote in a paper published by the American Chemical Society. At present, the wallpaper could delay the spread of a fire for at least five minutes, providing homeowners with much-needed time to escape flames and first responders with additional time to arrive on the scene and put the fire out.
Investor Insight: The “Internet of Things” could soon include fire-alarm wallpaper. This type of improvement could reduce insurance costs and fire risks.
This is not the first attempt to create flame-retardant wallpaper, but it is the first time researchers have achieved a working model that is also nontoxic and meets environmental safety standards. “Fire retardancy…can be efficiently improved…but the chemicals used had potential toxicity and were not environmentally friendly,” observed the developers. They used, instead, an inorganic material in the wallpaper to improve the safety of the paper while achieving “white color, high flexibility, mechanical robustness, and excellent fire resistance,” they said. These are also requirements for good wallpaper, since it must adhere to the wall, be safe for humans, and offer a variety of colors and designs.