DNA: a novel, green, natural flame retardant and suppressant for cotton!!

A team of researchers working at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy has found that applying herring sperm DNA to cotton fabric caused it to be resistant to burning or catching on fire. In their paper published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, the team describes how they applied the sperm as a coating to a piece of cotton test fabric and tried to set it on fire, to no avail…


For the first time, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from herring sperm has been employed as a novel flame retardant system for enhancing the thermal stability and flame retardant properties of cotton fabrics. Indeed, DNA could be considered an intrinsically intumescent flame retardant as it contains the three main components that are usually present in an intumescent formulation, namely: the phosphate groups, able to produce phosphoric acid, the deoxyribose units acting as a carbon source and blowing agents (upon heating a (poly)saccharide dehydrates forming char and releasing water) and the nitrogen-containing bases (guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine) that may release ammonia. The flammability tests in horizontal configuration have clearly shown that after two applications of a methane flame for 3 s, the DNA-treated cotton fabrics do not burn at all. Furthermore, when exposed to an irradiative heat flux of 35 kW m−2, no ignition has been observed. Finally, an LOI value of 28% has been achieved for the treated fabrics as opposed to 18% of the untreated fabric.




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