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Why fire-detecting wallpaper outperforms a smoke alarm

What’s the worst thing that can happen to a building we’ve worked on?

I am sure you can come up with a number of events that can be disastrous for a building, but “burning down” is definitely going to be on that list.

Chinese scientists have been looking at this and they have developed “fire alarm wallpaper”. Expose this wallpaper to extreme heat, and it can trigger an alarm.

This is cutting edge technology – it’s still in the development stages – but it has implications for safety. Most alarm technology is triggered by smoke, but this isn’t the first sign of a fire. So the heat trigger could give people valuable extra time to evacuate a building.

How does it work?

The “fire alarm wallpaper” uses hydroxyapatite – a non-flammable substance that is found in bones and teeth. This is used to create nano-wires within the wallpaper.

A graphene oxide ink coating is used, and when exposed to high temperatures – above 130 degrees Celsius – this burns off the oxygen-containing elements of the ink, leaving a material that conducts electricity.

This circuit can be connected to a fire alarm, sprinkler system or emergency lighting. The wallpaper takes two seconds to respond to heat, and will create a circuit for around five minutes.

What are the other benefits of this wallpaper?

As well as triggering alarms, the wallpaper is a lot less flammable than standard wallpaper. Commercial wallpaper can be highly flammable, whereas the nano-wires make this wallpaper fire resistant.

The paper is white in colour and can be dyed and printed commercially to give people the patterns they want on their wallpaper.

And of course, shortening the time it takes to alert people to fire has the potential to save lives and cut down on property damage.

When will it be on the market?

This wallpaper is in the early stages of development and is likely to take some time to bring to market.

My take on it is that this is the future. We are already creating intelligent buildings, so why not add intelligent wallpaper into the mix?

What do you think? Can you see your clients using this in the future?

P. S. If you need any help with the structural elements of a project you’re working on, please get in touch.

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