Feeds

Fire-quenching electric forcefield backpack invented

Conflag stifler to replace sprinkler systems, fire hoses

Security for virtualized datacentres

Boffins in America say they're on the track of a backpack electro-beam forcefield device capable of snuffing out raging fires without any need for water, hoses or other traditional firefighting apparatus. Apart from portable applications, they raise the possibility that the new technology might replace building sprinkler systems with ceiling mounted conflagration-squelching zapper terminals.

"Controlling fires is an enormously difficult challenge," says Dr Ludovico Cademartiri. "Our research has shown that by applying large electric fields we can suppress flames very rapidly. We're very excited about the results."

Cademartiri and his fellow boffins at Harvard uni have tested their flame-zapping gizmo in the lab, using a 600-watt amplifier hooked up to a "wand-like probe". This setup was apparently able to snuff out test flames "more than a foot high". The team think that it should be possible to get similar effects with a less power-hungry system using 60W or less, raising the possibility of portable equipment.

How does it work, then? Basically they aren't too sure.

“Combustion is first and foremost a chemical reaction – arguably one of the most important – but it’s been somewhat neglected by most of the chemical community,” says Cademartiri. “We’re trying to get a more complete picture of this very complex interaction.”

The doc and his colleagues think that the electrical field from the zapper interacts with carbon particles - soot - in the flame to produce its effects, but candidly admit that they don't have all the ins and outs of the process nailed down. Nonetheless they consider that the tech could soon replace fixed sprinkler systems - it would apparently work well in confined spaces, less so against open-air forest fires and suchlike.

Cademartiri outlined the research at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in California this week. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.