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Fighting flames with greener materials

New flame retardants rely on alternating nanolayers of relatively nontoxic materials

12:44pm, August 31, 2011

Materials scientists in Texas have developed flexible coatings mere billionths of a meter thick that keep cotton clothing from going up in flames and plastic foam from melting. Unlike the widely used but potentially toxic flame retardants they've been designed to replace, these nano-coatings appear relatively safe, their designers say.

Yu-Chin Li and Jaime Grunlan of Texas A&M University in College Station described their team’s new technologies August 31 at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver.

Because fabric fibers are so thin, “bein

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