Scientists on the mainland – where paper was first made about 2,000 years ago – say they have developed a new form of the material that is fire and water-resistant. A research team at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics added a form of calcium called hydroxyapatite, found in animal tooth enamel and bone, to change the structure of paper and give it special properties. The researchers are now applying for more than a dozen patents for the technology on the mainland and hope the paper will be on the market in three years. They say the technology allows the paper to repel even coffee, juice or tea, and withstand heat of up 200 degrees Celsius. The rise of China’s millionaire research scientists The technology is one of the latest “super materials” developed by Chinese scientists at the institute. Another team of researchers developed a super tough material more than 200 times stronger than steel by weight from a form of carbon. The leading researcher on the latest project, Zhu Yingjie, told the South China Morning Post that paper has been produced before that is flame retardant or water repellent, but never with both properties. “We believe the paper will be beneficial to people for all kinds of different uses, ranging from using it for calligraphy to making advertising billboards,” he said. The production cost of an A4 size piece of the paper, which looks similar to the conventional product but has a slightly smoother surface, would be “a few yuan” more, but it is hoped this will fall if the paper is manufactured in large quantities. The team has been working on the technology since 2008. Chinese scientists’ new ‘super-strong foam’ could form lightweight tank and troop armour The researchers also claim the paper can be wiped clean with water without smudging what is written on it. “The paper will also be useful for preserving important documents for centuries, because we do not need to worry that it will be destroyed in fire or through water hazards,” Zhu said. The same research team previously developed fireproof paper with antibacterial properties, Zhu added, and the technology had attracted interest from firms making food labels.