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GFI: Creators of innovative fire-suppression technology look to go global

Article - March 31, 2024

Founded just under a decade ago, the South Korean company has developed a range of cutting-edge products that harness a patented microcapsule system to provide early fire detection and suppression. 

Founded in 2014, GFI has developed early-detection fire-suppression technology that has established the South Korean company as a pioneer in its field.

“Existing fire-extinguishing systems, such as the traditional red fire extinguisher, operate reactively,” says GFI’s CEO, Sangseop Lee. “They are all about post-outbreak intervention. Our approach, however, diverges fundamentally by focusing on prevention. Our products are designed to thwart fire at its inception; extinguishing a candle is simpler than combating a raging wildfire.”

Under the brand name AEGIS, GFI has created a range of fire-suppressing pads, wires, shields, films and tapes that incorporate the company’s patented, award-winning microcapsule system: temperature-sensitive capsules that are filled with an eco-friendly, highly effective fire-extinguishing agent. AEGIS products are attached to objects that represent an ignition risk – and the instant that fire erupts, the rise in temperature causes the capsules to break open, releasing the agent.

GFI’s fire-prevention technology is durable, requires no power source and is resistant to false triggers. Furthermore, it is easy to install and can fit into tight spaces – right down to spots just 1mm wide. “Envision a room with potential ignition points such as power outlets, cords and lamps,” Mr. Lee explains. “Our products can be positioned within these minuscule spaces to preclude fire outbreaks.”

AEGIS tape, for example, is the ideal solution for avoiding fires caused by cords, cables and wires. “Consider the typical scenario where fires don't originate from within cables but rather from their connecting points,” Mr. Lee says. “Currently, black insulation tape is commonly employed for these connectors, despite its limited fire-preventing capabilities. In such instances, our fire-prevention tape proves invaluable. Alternatively, our products can be seamlessly integrated during the cable manufacturing stage, providing inherent fire protection from the outset.”

Another common fire source is the secondary battery, better known as the rechargeable battery, which is found in everyday technology such as cell phones, tablets and computers. “Visualize a laptop engulfed in flames,” Mr. Lee says. “The battery is often the source of the fire. With our products affixed to the battery, any excessive temperature rise triggers our intervention, preventing fire. While your laptop might still suffer damage, we've shielded you from the peril of fire. Incorporating our products into laptops is a relatively straightforward endeavor.”

Fire risks such as cables and batteries are key to GFI’s international strategy, as the Gimpo-based company seeks to bolster its presence beyond South Korea. “This year, we are committed to breaking into the global arena,” Mr. Lee declares. “The South Korean market, although significant, has its limitations. We aim to provide assistance not only domestically but also to other countries around the world.

“We have identified two key areas for our growth strategy. Firstly, we intend to target the main secondary battery manufacturing countries, which – other than South Korea – are China and Japan. Currently, no other countries are on a par with these three powerhouses in secondary battery production. Secondly, we aim to engage general businesses and individuals, specifically focusing on cable and household electronic device manufacturers. For this aspect, our scope encompasses the entire globe.”

As it bids to take its technology around the planet, GFI is also committed to making its products accessible to all sections of society. “Fire vulnerabilities disproportionately affect the vulnerable and disadvantaged,” Mr. Lee says. “The affluent often reside in safer, meticulously equipped environments with advanced sensors, while those with fewer resources often inhabit older homes with deteriorating electrical systems. Such environments are predisposed to fire outbreaks.

“My goal is to craft products that are not only of high quality but also affordable. Our products hold tremendous potential for widespread use in underdeveloped nations. Even in developed countries, pockets of underprivileged communities exist. By extending our products to these demographics, we can potentially save countless lives and valuable property.”

“I firmly believe our products can be a force for good,” Mr. Lee concludes. “My aspiration is to benefit not only my company but also the local community, South Korea, and the global community.”