Scientists have developed an eco-friendly process for increasing the fire resistance of timber that also dramatically increases its strength.
While methods for fire-proofing timber materials already exist, most of them involve treatments that employ substances that are noxious or hazardous to human health. Researchers from Stony Brook University have developed a new type of timber flame retardant that is not only sustainable and environmentally friendly, but also radically raises the strength of treated materials.
The flame retardant consists of a phosphorus-based compound called resorcinol bis (RDP) that has already been declared by the EPA to be a preferred substitute for halogenated flame retardants. The compound penetrates the natural structure of timber materials and interacts with its cellulose, producing a wood-plastic composite that surpasses UL94 V-0 flammability standards. This means that a vertical specimen of the material will stop burning in as little as 10 seconds when set alight, without giving off any lit particles.
Another advantage of the treatment process is that can dramatically improve the durability of timber materials by reinforcing their cellulose structure, increasing their strength by as much as five-fold.