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MSU Entrepreneurship Students Working to Protect Homes from Wildfire Damage (Video)

4-18-16 - Students at Mississippi State University successfully tested a new chemical that could potentially stop wildfires from ruining homes on Saturday.

Anna Barker came up with the idea after she saw news footage of a man trying to save his house with a garden hose.

“So we just created a system that would release this polymer in an event of a wildfire, and hopefully protect any kind of residential property if a wildfire were coming through,” she said.

Barker met with several engineers about the idea, and chose to partner with Kagen Crawford on the project.

“Engineers and business partners coincide in the real world,” Crawford said. “So this really brings the university feel of every major being separated to the real world of every major works together to make something happen.”

The team created a sprinkler system to go on a dog house. Then, the chemical was sprayed onto the house. They used a blowtorch on the wood, and the house did not catch on fire.

"We're super excited it didn't catch fire and that we think it's actually going to work," Barker said.

A diluted version of the chemical was used during the test. The actual polymer will be three times as strong.

If the chemical does become a household item, homeowners won’t have to worry about it hurting the environment or themselves.

“It is nontoxic, noncorrosive, and biodegradable. It is OSHA and EPA approved and the only fire polymer substance to ever be approved by the U.S. Forestry Service,” Barker said.

The Starkville Fire Department watched over the trial run. The team thanked the city for letting them use their services.

Graphic Design major McKinley Ranager is also helping the team with promotions.

They also demonstrated the chemical’s ability in other ways throughout the day. They soaked their arms with the substance and attempted to light it on fire. They also soaked one piece of cardboard with it. Then, lit that piece and another on fire. Only the cardboard without the substance burned.

Barker has had this idea for around a year. Between research and development, the engineering department, the chemistry department, and other supporters, the polymer is now ready for testing. She credits them for helping her idea come to life.

"We were a little nervous," Barker said. "Working with student grant funding and doing everything small scale, you're a little bit nervous on if this tiny prototype can really portray what a large scale system would be like."

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