Australians Develop Bush Fire Shelter That Can Withstand 1000 Degrees Celsius

"It is hard to believe that in 2016 we can send people to the moon but still have not protected ourselves against the very real and increasing threat of bush fires, even though more and more people live in rural areas," say Tune and Ulla Johansen, inventors of a fire shelter that you can survive in during a bush fire — tested above and beyond the Australian standards.

Other shelters already on the market have either not been tested, or only tested to the Australian standard, according to Johansens. They shelter they have created has been tested to above 1000°C for 135 minutes with steady internal temperatures of 20° for the first 20 minutes.

The average bush fire lasts 15 minutes and reaches 250°C to 450°C, with firestorms lasting 5 minutes and reaching above 1000°C.

You can find out more at the Johansen's IndieGoGo campaign.


WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Their testing has produced some great results, however the internal temperatures, start at 20C.

    I wonder what the effect would be if the starting internal temperature was 35-40C as is common on a hot, high bushfire danger day.

    If that shelter is standing in the sun, in a rural bushfire prone area for a week.... the walls/stones and internal air temperature would be much higher.

    How would that affect it's fire resistance.

    Ultimately even spending 15-20min in 50C is better than being in a fire, but I don't know how that affects safety standards and accreditation.

    Short term human tolerance to heat is around 60-70 as long as you have access to cool water.

    Last edited 25/01/16 12:43 pm

      If it can maintain internal temperatures in a 1000 degree bushfire, why do you think a warm day would give it a hotter baseline starting temp?

      I'm sure if you kept the door closed before you enter it then it would be reasonable to expect it to be 20 degrees upon entry, regardless of the ambient outside temperature.

        Ever been in a car that's sat out in the sun all day? It's still hot inside. Without some sort of additional cooling or air-con, a massive brick/stone shed is going to heat up.
        It's designed to withstand a few minutes of intense heat not the long exposure to the sun in rural Australia.

        A 20 degree difference inside can still be life and death regardless what the outside temperature is. If it's already hot inside due to it being a hot day (or hot week) then any increase in temperature could be fatal.

        Anyway, it's more of a comment on their data collection. If you start at a higher temp and it still rises 20degrees in 15minutes, then now you're at 60 degrees which is easily fatal.

        A high bushfire danger day is unlikely to be a mild 20 degrees. It's not really a proper real word representation.

        Last edited 27/01/16 2:13 pm

          If the shelter can withstand 1000 degrees for 135 minutes and remain at 20 degrees inside, what makes you think a 'warm day' will elevate the internal temperatures if it remains closed? The structure isn't exactly a car or a hothouse, with glass windows.

          The whole point is that the brick is working as an insulator...

            Because that's not how heat transfer and insulation works.

            The internal temperature of a sealed box will still equalize with the external temperature eventually. The barrier between the two temperatures (in this case the bricks and walls) determines how quickly that will happen. It's physically impossible to completely isolate the internal from the external... there's still heat transfer even across a vacuum.

            The point of the shelter is it slows down the heat transfer from the outside. If you left it in a fire long enough the inside would eventually get to 1000 (assuming it doesn't collapse first). The point is to make that transfer slow enough so you can survive for 2 hours.

            If the shelter is out in the 40 degree Australian outback for a week or longer it's going to equalize. Without aircon it will eventually be 40 degrees inside.

            So the question is.... if you start at 40 and THEN put it in a fire, is it still a 20 degree rise. Because at that point the 60 inside is fatal. Because the temperature difference between 20 - 1000 is so close to 40 - 1000, it's safe to assume the transfer rate will be almost the same. So I'd expect the internal temperature to also increase by the same amount (in this case 20).

            I guess it's possible the shelter can survive one day at 40 and stay cool.... and I guess the night time is probably cooler so it might be OK, but it can stay around 30 overnight. In fact:

            "In Australia, Marble Bar (WA) recorded maximum temperatures equaling or exceeding 37.8°C (100°F) on 161 consecutive days (between 30 October 1923 and 7 April 1924) - This remains a word heat record. Also of note is the 333 consecutive days of temperatures above 32°C (90°F) recorded at Wyndham (again in WA) in 1946."

            This may be rare enough that it doesn't really matter and going from 30-50 isn't as bad a 40-60.

            I'm sure there's some standards for shelters and it's probably OK but I was just questioning the validity of the test results and graphs in a real world situation.

            BTW, all this is easily solved by just installing air con. You don't need it to run all the time, you just need to cool a small room by 20 degrees and you're fine. Even a few minutes of aircon a day will keep you shelter cool and ready to go.

            I could technically work it out but I don't know the cross sectional area or the thermal conductivity or the thickness of the building material.

      dig it into the ground!
      I don't think a slightly hotter internal temp would matter that much

        I have to agree. Why build an above ground shelter, I would expect a buried shelter to be significantly more effective.

    if only this guy had let us have Starlite

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now