OCT 07, 2019 12:11 PM PDT

Technology That Prevents Wildfires

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A study by Stanford University researchers explains the development of a gel-like fluid that can serve as preventive method to reduce the incidence of wildfires. When applied to ignition-prone areas, the technological treatment can be applied using standard agricultural spraying equipment or from aircraft and is more efficient that current firefighting methods. The treatment is developed from nontoxic-materials found in food, drugs, and cosmetics.

Image and Caption retrieved from Stanford University:

Under the supervision of CalFire, the researchers performed test burns on a grassy roadside area near San Luis Obispo, California, to gauge the effect of a fire-retarding hydrogel. The images above show untreated (left) and treated (right) plots shortly after fire ignition. (Image credit: Eric Appel)


"This has the potential to make wildland firefighting much more proactive, rather than reactive," said Eric Appel, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of materials science and engineering. "What we do now is monitor wildfire-prone areas and wait with bated breath for fires to start, then rush to put them out."

Although wildfires are crucial part of ecosystems, many are human-caused.

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"We don't have a tool that's comparable to this," said Alan Peters, a CalFire division chief in San Luis Obispo who monitored some of the test burns. "It has the potential to definitely reduce the number of fires."

"We hope these new materials can open the door to identifying and treating high-risk areas to protect people's lives and livelihoods," said Appel.

Findings of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Stanford University

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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