Suberin as a Bio-based Flame-Retardant?
Keywords:Suberin, Flame-retardant, Bio-based materials
Fire hazard is a constant risk in everyday life with the use of combustibles such as polymeric materials, wood, and fabrics, to name a few. Halogenated compounds have been widely used as efficient flame-retardants, often being applied as coatings or impregnations. With growing environmental concerns and regional bans on the use of halogenated flame-retardant compounds, bio-based alternatives are garnering significant research interest. Naturally occurring materials such as eggshells, DNA, and certain proteins have developed a self-defense mechanism against fire over millions of years of evolution. Cork, a naturally occurring biological tissue in outer bark, is of interest as it is often used as a heat shield and moisture repellent, specifically in spacecraft. A deeper look into the chemical structure of cork indicates the presence of suberin, a bio-polyester group that makes up as much as 40% of its chemical composition. These bio-polyester groups play a key role as a protective barrier between the plant and the surrounding external environment. Thus, the role of suberin in plants could be mimicked for the design of biobased flame-retardant materials.