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The Sciences

DARPA's New Machine for Blowing Out Fires---With Sound Waves

DiscoblogBy Sophie BushwickJuly 17, 2012 9:03 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news Music may have charms to soothe the savage breast---but it can also do a number on flames. In the above video, a blast of sound easily conquers fire. When researchers from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA's, placed two speakers on either side of the burning liquid fuel, the sound waves increased the air velocity and thinned the fire. As for the fuel itself, the higher velocity led to more fuel vaporization for a wider and cooler flame. Both effects made the blaze easy to snuff out. But we shouldn't start arming our firefighters with boom boxes quite yet. First of all, this demonstration only worked on combusting liquid fuel, and may not perform as well on, say, a burning building. After all, Darpa's Instant Fire Suppression program focuses on extinguishing fires in enclosed areas such as ships and cockpits---not outside. And even in this indoors demonstration, it took the speakers a while to conquer a fairly small flame. Even the researchers admit that they aren't sure how to apply their new method on a real-world scale. For the time being, the best application of acoustic control over fire may still be making cool videos of Rubens’ tubes. [via Wired Danger Room]

Video courtesy of Darpa

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