Feeds

Fire-quenching electric forcefield backpack invented

Conflag stifler to replace sprinkler systems, fire hoses

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.