A team of researchers from Western Reserve University found a way to protect the houses from fire by wrapping them in a huge aluminum blanket. after a series of tests demonstrating the feasibility of this method, the researchers hope that their discoveries can help prevent damage caused by forest fires, an unfortunately growing phenomenon.
The lead author of the study on the fireproof blanket for homes, Takahashi Fumiaki , is a professor at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio and collaborated with NASA's Glenn Research Center and the United States Forest Service for this research.
The study was published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, and find it here.
The images of the recent, terrible fires in California (a phenomenon also frequent in Italy, especially in the hot months, and destined to increase with the global warming) pushed Takahashi to look for new solutions and improve those found: a first 'blanket' with a full structure was already on the market.
Although unofficial reports existed, scientific evidence was lacking to support the ability of fire blankets to protect buildings. Takahashi and his team tried to remedy it through a series of experiments.
The tests tested the ability of different blanket materials to protect structures from fire. The team started with pieces of wood exposed to fires in one room, then wooden panels gradually getting bigger and finally an entire shed.
"Fire exposure tests determined how well a fire blanket protected various wooden structures. We tested four types of fabric materials: aramid, fiberglass, amorphous silica and pre-oxidized carbon, each with and without aluminum surface. ".
The best performing blankets are made of fiberglass or amorphous silica laminated with a heat reflective aluminum sheet. The material is currently strong enough to protect a building isolated from a brief fire attack, providing up to 10 minutes of protection. Other developments are clearly needed to obtain a blanket suitable for extreme scenarios.
"The implications of our conclusions imply that the technical community, the general public and firefighters must work together to take a step-by-step approach to the effective application of this technology."