Household fires have caused civilian injuries, deaths, and direct damages in millions of USD. Flame retardant materials with thermal insulation properties are desired for modern building construction to improve insulation within HVAC systems. Currently, most building insulation is made from flammable organic and petroleum-derived polymers, such as polystyrene, with flame retardant additives including halogen, graphene oxide. During a fire, these additives create toxic byproducts such as halogenated hydrogen and phosphorous oxide, which are harmful to both humans and the environment. 

This invention puts forward ultralight, high strength fire-retardant aerogel composed of cellulose nanofibers (CNF), and metallic phase molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). 

Technology Overview

Researchers have designed fire-retardant aerogel with cellulose nanofibers and metallic phase MoS2 by immersing the materials in liquid nitrogen and subsequently freeze-drying them. The crosslinking formed between MoS2 and CNF limits the oxygen index and improves fire resistance. The nano barrier effect of MoS2 nanosheets suppresses the external heat and oxygen permeation, inhibits the release of volatile toxic substances, and the Mo atom accelerates the charred layer formation from the polymer matrix, thus improving the flame retardance of the polymer composite. 


  • The method of synthesis for fire retardant aerogel is both simple and effective 
  • Provides completely nonflammable insulation 
  • Environmentally superior and smokeless in the UL-94 burn test 
  • Low thermal conduction coefficient 
  • Material with ultralight density, high specific surface area, high porosity, and high mechanical strength 
  • Renewable, green and, environment-friendly material on burning 


 This material can be used in: 

  • Commercial electrical and electronic appliances 
  • Construction of commercial and residential buildings 
  • Fireproofing Cloth (firefighters’ uniforms) 
  • Aerospace equipment 


  • License 
  • Partnering 
  • Research collaboration 
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Dormant Physical
Northeastern University
Hongli Zhu
Lei Yang