Project Description: 

We are starting to see the serious impacts of climate change throughout the world, and it will only continue to get worse. The need for alternative energy and lifestyle choices is apparent, but the temperature changes won’t be going away any time soon, and neither will the wildfires. In California alone, over >10000 structures and $13 billion in damages were lost each year in 2017 and 2018. The project here proposes a solution to help save these houses. It is important to focus on the roof and the gutters when trying to protect a house from a wildfire, and class A roofs often do not offer enough protection. Superabsorbent polymer, or SAP, has proven to be very effective in stopping fires and the damages they cause. SAP is a dry powder that absorbs water into its matrix, trapping it there. This trapping mechanism allows little to no movement of water molecules, stopping convective heat transfer and slowing temperature increase drastically. The proposed solution is to put a blanket with dry SAP into a roof, along with a sprinkler system, and soak it with water in an emergency to protect the house. We have proved the effectiveness of this roof using an ASTM test called the Burning Brand test. The Burning Brand test consisted of a section of roof with a 1 ft x 1 ft wooden block placed on top to burn. The block was lit on fire and temperatures were recorded. An example class A roof we found online was tested along with the designed SAP roof. The control roof burned through, reaching 800 °C on the roof deck. The SAP roof deck never even reached 30 °C for the entire duration of the test. The product is cheap and easy to make. It does not require much additional effort for installation, and it is incredibly effective. The goal for the future is to continue to scale up testing as much as possible and attempt to get the setup in more realistic wildfire scenarios.



Project Team Member(s): 
Charles Kawasaki
Matteo Liserre
Autumn Burgis
Emma Lingle
College of Engineering Unit(s): 
Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate Project
YouTube Video Link(s): 
A 5 minute presentation giving a brief run through of the project design and goal
Project Communication Piece(s): 
PDF icon coe_showcase_poster_final.pdf943.1 KB
Project ID: