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The environmental potential of DNA

The ongoing advances in science are astounding. It is true to say that people tend to overestimate the changes that take place in one year and underestimate the changes in ten. When you look at how much we have advanced in the last decade; the huge leaps made in the internet, cloud, mobility and social, are incredible. Yet in the last year, it can appear like not a lot is taking place. One reason for this is that the changes are incremental and taking place in the background. For example, a recent discovery has found that DNA is an incredibly effective flame retardant. While it sounds like a small discovery, read on to learn how it could change things in the long term.

When scientists started to look more closely at the chemical structure of DNA, they realized that as DNA is rich in phosphates it can create a flame-retarding residue. In addition, it also contains nitrogen. This produces ammonia, stopping combustion and creating a protective shield. While that all sounds good, there doesn’t appear to be many realistic uses of DNA as a flame retardant. Yet there are.

Scientists believe the DNA from the sperm of herring could be a new way to make clothes flame retardant. This presents a huge opportunity as the current methods used to make clothes flame retardant are bad for the environment. If a new method could be rolled out, it would not only solve this niche problem but act as an example to other industries. Flame retardant clothing was previously thought of as one area where chemicals had to be used. Finding an effective natural solution is clear evidence to the world that alternative approaches exist and are possible.

At present, the solution is more expensive than a typical chemical treatment but prices are expected to come down as, if the new discovery can stimulate demand, supply will slowly rise to match it. 

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