Fire alarms usually pick up signs when the fire starts to spread. But currently, researchers from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Materials Science of Madrid (IMDEA Materials) are developing an alarm device capable ofidentify a fire early.
This fire sensor technology is based on nanomaterials. These last are under development at IMDEA Materials. The device would make it possible to detect a fire even before the fire begins to manifest itself.
Ms. Xiaolu Li, a researcher at IMDEA Materials, hopes to take this new concept to the next level.
This technology is capable of operating at temperatures as low as 250 degrees Celsius, with a response time of less than one second. Most common household materials only begin to burn between 300 and 500 degrees Celsius. Thanks to these sensors, we will have enough time to act and prevent the fire from breaking out. However, the aim of the work is to make the sensors react at temperatures as low as possible in order to be able to give the alert earlier.
The sensors can detect temperature variations by analyzing the chemical structure of a material. The heating of the material generates a modification of its conductivity, which makes it possible to launch the alert of a threat of fire. This new alarm technology also seeks to use these materials capable of changing shape and color, as well as multifunctional materials for create more threat indicators.
Ms. Li explained that unlike conventional sensors, IMDEA Materials’ fire sensors can be directly related to the physical materials of the buildings. In addition, the researchers developed an intelligent wireless communication system capable of sending alerts to screens at distances of up to 20km of the fire.
Ms. Li’s fire sensors are froma decade of analysis carried out in the field of flame retardants. This research was conducted as part of a study on “High performance and flame retardant polymers” of IMDEA Materials, under the supervision of Professor De-Yi Wang.
Even though some improvements needed, research on these sensors is very encouraging. Color and shape change indicators are irreversible. They can therefore only be used once. The team is also continuing to perfect the responsiveness of sensors to temperatureas well as the range and effectiveness of the wireless alert system.