Wildfire Ignition is Solvable



Right. Now, if I look out my window, I, see a very Brown's guy. It looks like it's twilight but you know it's ten o'clock in the morning and it should be a bright and sunny grew up in California I'm Californian for almost my entire life. And you know I have many graduate students in my lab at Stanford that come here from all over the place and they sort of assumed that it's normal. And I had to tell him now I mean I don't remember this ever when I was growing up I mean you'd hear about. Fires every once in a while on the on the news but it certainly in the last couple years has become a completely regular thing. So I can certainly understand your eagerness to to help solve this problem, solve ables about how you're GonNa do it what's your solvable for dealing with these fires? Many many millions of gallons of retardant. So used every year right the iconic red stuff you see being dropped from planes. And that's really only ever used reactively. So once a fire has started. Our main approach is trying to stop them before they start. Now one of the limitations that we're trying to address is if you want to go and pre treat areas where you know fires are going to start. One of the primary limitations of the current hardens that they don't stay where you put. A high wind or heavy do is enough to wash the retardants off the vegetation. So they stopped working off. So what we sought to do was to to not create a new retardant let's say 'cause we're using the same active fire retarding agent but instead tweaking the performance additives so that the retarded stays on the vegetation. Throughout the duration of the fire season. So you can spray one time in June. Let's say and have protection against fire starts. All the way through until the rainy season comes. So can you describe this stuff? What's it like if you touch it how does it feel? It's not quite a lot of people think of Jello and they think of a gel in it's not thick like that. It looks Kinda like cream really So what we developed in my lab improves the adherence. So more of what you spray actually sticks on the vegetation and it improves the durability. So it's really only once you get into the ratings season that the materials will wash away and simply biodegrade on the soil. Yeah. The evidence in I mean you know it works yes. So we did pilot scale studies to test ourselves and we tried to burn it It was actually. Kinda fun because you know we would do the experiments and and see the fire would not actually ignite even through extensive weathering. So we rain to half an inch on it and let it sit in the environment for six weeks. The treated grass, it wouldn't burn. So some of the folks that we're working with started just drawing funny faces in the grass with the with a torch because even if you took a torch to, it wouldn't ignite. Wow. Then we were able to step it up and actually do some full scale pilot studies in and treated a number of roadside segments in southern, California many of them are small but every one of these ignitions requires crews to go out and put him out. So they use a lot of resources that take a firefighter time that they could be spending doing things like controlled burns. And we reported that they were zero fires in the treated areas Eric, this targeted intervention, right? You don't need to treat the whole forest. You just go where the fires most likely to happen. Yeah. Exactly. I think that's An important misconception that I see a lot of places know we're not talking about treating the entire forest like you would with a controlled burn. We're talking about treating only right where the fires likely to start, and so if you envision a roadside where if you have a car that overheats and it pulls over into the grass, right next to the roadway or somebody throws a cigarette out of their window, it only lands right next. To the roadway, and so you only have to treat right there and what's beautiful about that is that let's say a twenty foot wide treatment protects all of the forest beyond it. Yeah and this cream that you're spraying is it is it safe for plants and trees and birds and animals and people I mean something about the look of that read stuff coming out of planes I always think I would not like to be underneath it. Yeah. So we when we were developing this, we specifically designed it to be safe. That was one of the the primary concerns because anything you're putting out in the environment, you want to be one hundred percent certain that it's safe and effective. We designed it using cellulose, adjust plant matter, and a thing called Colloidal Silica, which you can think of as Nanna sand. So it's just primarily sand and

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