IG NOBEL UPDATE-- Flameproof Troy


Flameproof Troy

The further adventures of Ig Nobel winner Troy Hurtubise

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Troy Hurtubise, circa 2002.

Here is a new chapter in our continuing series of reports about the inventively adventurous exploits of Troy Hurtubise. Troy is the winner of the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of Safety Engineering. His Ig Nobel citation reads:

Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.

Investigative reporter Phil Novak of Baytoday.ca shares this latest report with us:

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Saturday, October 04, 2003

Troy Hurtubise says he doesn’t feel the heat, even with a 2,000° C blowtorch flame blazing at his head.

Hurtubise has invented a physics-defying substance called fire paste, which he claims eliminates the cross-transfer of heat and prevents anything coated in the substance from burning up.

Not only does the paste stop heat from getting through, it cools to the touch within 20 seconds of the fire source being removed.

Don’t take his word for it though, because proof is available on national television.

Known as ‘the bear guy’ because of the Ursus bear suits he also invented, Hurtubise demonstrated the heat resistant properties of fire paste on a segment produced by and aired Sept. 2 on the Discovery Channel program The Daily Planet.

In the spot, Hurtubise puts on a hockey helmet covered with a thin layer of cured fire paste and then chats casually while the live torch is held against his noggin.

“The scientists say I should be dead by now,” Hurtubise says at one point.

There’s no trickery involved, Hurtubise said, because the Discovery Channel controlled the entire sequence, even bringing the torches to North Bay in August to film the piece.

“The producer told me it was the most amazing thing he’d ever seen, that I could sit there for 10 minutes without getting my brain fried.” Hurtubise, 39, said.

Hurtubise provided baytoday.ca with a demonstration, holding a hardened fire paste tile in his hand, while waving a blowtorch to and fro over it. He then took the tile and placed it against his face. (See attached gallery for photo of this.)

“Didn’t feel a thing, in fact you can touch it and see it’s cool to the touch,” Hurtubise said.

“It dissipates heat at an exponential rate, it’s beyond belief, and I have no idea why it does, all I know is that it does.”

Fire paste, Hurtubise said, is biodegradable, non-toxic and made with common ingredients.

“If you knew what it was made out of you’d laugh your head off for a year,” Hurtubise said during an interview in his home lab.

And the ingredients are cheap too.

“I can buy a 45-gallon drum of one of the main ingredients,” Hurtubise said, “for five bucks.”

Hurtubise sees two major markets for fire paste, the formula for which is locked in a safe somewhere in the United States, he said.

“I could coat the belly of the NASA space shuttle with fire paste for $25,000 (US), instead of the $60 million it costs for them to put tiles on it,” Hurtubise said.

“It can stand up to the heat of re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere, and then they can simply wash it off.”

In fact it was just three months after the space shuttle Columbia explosion that Hurtubise perfected fire paste.

He said it took him 17 years of work "and 3,600 pours of the stuff," before finding the right combination.

The fire insurance industry is also interested, Hurtubise said, and has asked him to demonstrate.

He’s going to build two small-scale houses, coat one with fire paste and leave the other as is. Then they’re both going to be set on fire. When the fire paste is sprayed off, Hurtubise said, the house will be there intact.
“It will save the insurance industry billions,” Hurtubise said.

He adds that fire paste can handle such high temperatures, that had the steel skeleton holding up the World Trade Towers been sprayed with it, the buildings wouldn’t have imploded after being hit by two airliners Sept. 11.

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Click here to see Baytoday's photographs of Troy demonstrating this.

Click here to see Daily Planet's film of Troy demonstrating this.

We will bring you further developments as we become aware of them.


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