By Julia Deng
MIDLAND - Biotech innovators unveiled revolutionary fire extinguishing technology Wednesday in Midland, the first city in the Western Hemisphere to test the new retardant.
Developed by scientists in Taiwan and Green Build Solutions LLC., a Texas company committed to environmentally sustainable innovation, the product is a foam-like substance with "dissolvable tiny-foamed fire extinguishing chemicals" or "D.T.E. particles."
"This is the most advanced fire [fighting] technology in the world and is the very first [fire retardant] that is completely environmentally friendly," Mike Loya, President of Green Build Solutions, said. "If you use this in a forest fire, it turns into a biodegradable fertilizer."
Developers claim the new retardant also works more efficiently than traditional fire extinguishing chemicals.
NewsWest 9 watched as Midland Fire officials tested the D.T.E. product at Harris Field on wood and diesel-fueled flames.
"Six to ten seconds; you saw that's how long it took to completely put out that fire we lit with probably the same amount of fuel you'd find in a tanker truck," Training Chief, Manuel Heredia, said.
Heredia said he was "very, very impressed" by the speed at which the product worked, as well as the relatively small amount needed.
Approximately one cup of retardant, mixed with water and sprayed out of a standard household extinguisher, subdued all visible flames within ten seconds.
According to Loya, another unique property is the foam's ability to minimize re-ignition risks, a common danger with traditional fire extinguishers. Fires that appear to be extinguished often re-ignite or lead to explosions.
"That won't happen with this [new retardant] because of how small and tightly interlaced the particles are," Loya said. "The tiny [particles] in the foam wrap around the source of the fire, kind of like layers of bedding and kill the oxygen supply."
Firefighters threw rocks at the wood and diesel fires in Harris Field after extinguishing them with the D.T.E. retardant but were not able to re-ignite either blaze.
"From what I can tell, I don't see any drawbacks," Heredia said.
He told NewsWest 9 the fire department's decision to use the new retardant could ultimately be determined by the cost of the product.
Developers have not put a price tag on their new technology yet.
"Right now, we just know we want to be based here in Midland," Loya said. "This is the energy and fuel capital of America and a [place] where this kind of sustainable technology can really be huge."