Painting out the Fire
Jonathan Han, Edmond Weng
Burnaby North Secondary
Floor Location : M 192 N

Painting Out the Fire
Jonathan Han and Edmond Weng
Burnaby North Secondary

Fires are one of the leading causes of death and injuries in North America. Caused by a combustion between oxygen, a heat source, and a fuel source, fires have the ability to not only destroy physical buildings but they can also terminate the lives of many. There are numerous methods of extinguishing fires, but there are few methods to prevent fires. We have found out in our research that calcium and potassium carbonate, as well as sodium and potassium bicarbonate have the ability to release carbon dioxide quickly through decomposition when heated to resist fires. By adding these chemicals directly into paint, we can create a fire-retardant paint that is an estimated 5-10 times less flammable compared to the original, thus creating a safety precaution which can reduce the chance of a fire starting. Although there are similar products on the market today, our paint will be much less toxic, more consistent, and of much higher quality.
We tested our idea by applying samples of paint treated with the chemical compounds listed above onto wood, the primary building material, and observing the time needed for the samples of wood to ignite on fire compared to untreated wood when held over a constant flame in a highly controlled experiment.
After the experimentation, we have observed that the paint treated with potassium carbonate performed the best; it increased the time until ignition of the wood by a maximum of 7 times compared to the control group. We later found out that this is likely because of the high bonding of the compound. We also noticed a change in the time to ignition when we modified the ratio of chemicals to paint (in terms of volume). For all the trials, the time to ignition increased when the paint mixture contained a higher concentration of the chemicals.
According to our data, it is indeed proven that the carbonate and bicarbonate compounds used in our experiments release carbon dioxide quickly to extend the time to ignition. Our chemically treated paint, when applied to an entire house, will greatly slow down a fire from spreading, if not prevent it. Every second is precious when escaping from fires, and our new innovative paint will allow more time for people to escape, thus saving lives.