Scientists Have Developed a Smart Gel Which Safeguard Plants from Wildfires

by Ernest Thomas
Scientists Have Developed a Smart Gel Which Safeguard Plants from Wildfires

Wildfires may occur naturally or accidentally. This year, forest fire has significantly affected the rainforest area of brazil. Being the most intense flames for almost ten years, it has ravaged the Amazon rainforest. Now it seems like we have a solution to deal with this blazing issue. Scientists recommend an adhesive gel which may soon offer durable protection against wildfires. Researchers from Stanford University in the US have published a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Besides, prof. Anthony C. Yu from the University has led the clinical trial, which includes the laboratory-based deployment of a fluid. Scientists say the sticky solution, i.e., environmentally benign cellulose-based viscoelastic fluid, can efficiently assist in saving large plant-based area across the peak fire period.

In America, they use ammonium polyphosphate (APP) to fight against wildfires. It is the most common fire-resistant there. In the latest trial, scientists have used the gel as a bearer for APP. If spread on ignition-prone regions, the materials have the potential to avoid fires throughout the intense flame season. The latest solution contains APP masked in a gel that forms a damp and sticky layer on vegetation which blocks flames. Most importantly, the treatment consists of only non-toxic raw materials broadly used in farms, medicinal, food, and cosmetic products. These unique attributes of the gel-based repellant make it usable for standard agricultural spraying. Thus stopping fires from igniting, such measures can be more efficient and affordable than existing fire-extinguishing methods.

Prof. Anthony and his team have worked with CalFire (California Department of Forestry and Fire). Meanwhile, they have tested the fire-retardant materials on vegetation. The trial included plants, like chamise and grass, which promote wildfire or where the fire ignites. As a result, they have found that the preventive measure offers complete fire protection. The solution has proven effective even after a half-inch rainfall. Whereas, other retardants provide little or no protection against fire in these extreme rainy conditions.

Currently, the researchers are working with the CalFire and California Department of Transportation. They aim to try out the material on risk-prone areas that are liable for many wildfires every year. Alan Peters, a CalFire division chief in San Luis Obispo, has seen some outcomes of the test burns. He notes they don’t have such a powerful tool. Thus the newly developed gel-like liquid has the ability to lessen the number of fires.

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