Feeds

Fire-quenching electric forcefield backpack invented

Conflag stifler to replace sprinkler systems, fire hoses

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.