Creating fire is still one of man’s greatest achievements. The problem arises when you have to control it or put it out.
This summer, the state of Colorado was helpless as hundreds of thousands of acres went up in flames. Homes and lives are lost worldwide at the hand of this merciless element everyday.
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been tinkering with a way of using physics instead of chemistry to combat our half friend, half foe.
How, might you ask? Here’s a description from DARPA:
“Two dynamics are at play in this approach. First, the acoustic field increases the air velocity. As the velocity goes up, the flame boundary layer, where combustion occurs, thins, making it easier to disrupt the flame. Second, by disturbing the pool surface, the acoustic field leads to higher fuel vaporization, which widens the flame, but also drops the overall flame temperature. Combustion is disrupted as the same amount of heat is spread over a larger area.”
In a controlled environment the idea is cool, but can this technology be implemented on a larger scale to put out forest fires? Will sound waves really help us conserve water and man-power in the future? Could this one day become an effective mainstream method for putting out pedestrian campfires as well?
Fire suppression is an incredibly interesting field with extreme potential. What do you think? Will the concept continue to smolder, or is it destined to be extinguished?
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