Researchers find DNA can work as a flame retardant

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…

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.

DNA’s natural structure makes it an ideal intumescent (substance that swells when heated) fire retardant—it has a backbone of sugar and phosphate and has a nitrogen base. For that reason, the researchers chose to test its ability as a fire retardant coating on a normally highly flammable cotton sample.

Their process was simple and straightforward—they extracted DNA from herring sperm, dissolved it in water, applied it to a sample piece of cotton, let it dry, then tried to get the sample to burn using a methane flame for several seconds. Their tests showed that the sample would not ignite and that the cotton fabric was not burned as a result of the application of the flame. The coating works because when DNA is heated the phosphate in it gives off phosphoric acid, which pulls water from cotton fiber and in the process leaves behind a residue rich in carbon, which is of course resistant to burning. The nitrogen in DNA also releases ammonia causing a dilution of flammable gasses. Together the materials that make up DNA, when subjected to heat, cause the buildup of a foam rich in carbon and the formation of a glassy outer coating that is also rich in carbon.
This new research indicates that DNA could be used as a flame retardant, though it does have some hurdles to jump before that is likely to happen. First, it must be determined that such a coating would not allow for DNA fragments to make their way into the person’s body that was wearing material treated with it. There’s also the cost—using current methods would make it three to five times more expensive to manufacture than conventional flame retardants. Also, unfortunately, its biodegradable desirability factor which would make it a good “green” alternative to current chemicals used in flame retardant coatings, is also its downfall—it doesn’t survive washing.

More information: DNA: a novel, green, natural flame retardant and suppressant for cotton, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2013, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C3TA00107E
Abstract 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.Journal reference:

Journal of Materials Chemistry A

© 2013 Phys.org

view popular
send feedback to editors

5 /5 (1 vote)

1
2
3
4
5

Move the slider to adjust rank threshold, so that you can hide some of the comments.

Display comments:
newest first

Rank

1
2
3
4
5

5 /5 (1 vote)

more news

Tags

Relevant PhysicsForums posts

Electrochemistry: glutamate anion instead of chloride
10 hours ago
Dear all,

I have been conducting some electrophysiology mesurements using a chlorided silver wire electrode to measure the current through a KCl solution. I would like to switch to using…

Diffusion studies in extraction
11 hours ago
Hi guys, I have a question regarding ways to investigate diffusion.

Here’s the case, I have a fruit which is used for solvent (eg methanol) extraction to extract active compounds from the fruit….

Diffusion of Co2 in Nitrogen
12 hours ago
Ok so I wish to try solve a problem at work I will try explain as best I can .

Problem Definition;
Filling of a bundle of cylinders 17 x 50litre ( 850 000 k/m^3). 30 % Co2 in the cyindrical…

Position of subshells in a bond
17 hours ago
I’ve learned that there are three types of p shells, namely Px, Py and Pz, each in a different direction. I’ve also learned that when different atoms bond together, they form specific shapes…

Titration problems
Mar 12, 2013
I am doing titration of NaOH with oxalic acid at school and none of my results are close together at all.

I got
1. 26.6 mL
2. 27 mL (although I want to discount this since I wasn’t very careful…

Why does the enthalpy equation include work (PV term) twice?
Mar 11, 2013
Hello. I am a thermodynamics novice trying to gain a better understanding of state functions, particularly enthalpy.

I understand that enthalpy is defined as

“A measure of the total energy of a…

More from Physics Forums – Chemistry

More news stories

Researchers discover novel chemical that controls cell behavior

(Phys.org) —It’s the spread of the original cancer tumor that kills most people. That’s why cancer researchers vigorously search for drugs that can prevent metastases, the spread of cancer. The research team co-led by Angela …

Chemistry / Biochemistry

2 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
0
|

Paving the way for greater use of ancient medical knowledge

Scientists are reporting an advance toward overcoming a major barrier to tapping the potential of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and India’s Ayurvedic medicine in developing new and more effective modern …

Chemistry / Biochemistry

9 hours ago |
5 / 5 (4) |
0
|

Smoke signals: The intriguing chemistry of a conclave chimney

The eyes of the world are focused on a thin chimney on top of the Sistine Chapel. Underneath, ensconced in the papal conclave, 115 cardinals are due to make their decision as to who will succeed Benedict …

Chemistry / Other

9 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
0

New approaches for controlling pesticide exposure in children

New research on household pesticide contamination emphasizes the need for less reliance on pesticides and more emphasis on neatness, blocking cracks where insects can enter and other so-called “integrated …

Chemistry / Other

9 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
0

Paraffin encapsulated in beach sand material as a new way to store heat from the sun

The search for sustainable new materials to store heat captured from the sun for release during the night has led scientists to a high-tech combination of paraffin wax and sand. Their report on the heat-storing …

Chemistry / Materials Science

9 hours ago |
4 / 5 (1) |
0

Whale’s streaming baleen tangles to trap food

Many whales filter food from water using racks of baleen plates in their mouths, but no one had ever investigated how baleen behaves in real life. According to Alexander Werth from Hampden-Sydney College, baleen was viewed …

Biology / Plants & Animals
45 minutes ago |
not rated yet |
0

Radiation for breast cancer can harm hearts, study finds

Women treated with radiation for breast cancer are more likely to develop heart problems later, even with the lower doses used today, new research suggests. The risk comes from any amount of radiation, starts …

Medicine & Health / Cardiology
11 minutes ago |
not rated yet |
0

Monarch butterflies drop ominously in Mexico

The amount of Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico dropped 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago, scientists reported Wednesday.

Biology / Ecology
11 minutes ago |
not rated yet |
0

Canadian commands space station for first time

With the ringing of a ceremonial bell in space to mark a crew change, astronaut Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to assume command of the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Space & Earth / Space Exploration
10 minutes ago |
not rated yet |
0

Spine MRIs often show harmless ‘defects,’ study finds

(HealthDay)—Even though expensive MRIs produce very detailed images for assessing back pain, they may not be very good at evaluating results after treatment, research suggests.

Medicine & Health / Medical research
2 minutes ago |
not rated yet |
0
|

Relatives who witness loved one’s CPR fare better, study finds

(HealthDay)—Watching medical personnel perform CPR on loved ones whose hearts have stopped—efforts that typically end in patient death—may bode better for family members’ mental health than being absent …

Medicine & Health / Psychology & Psychiatry
just added |
not rated yet |
0
|