Technology July 15, 2012
WEIRD SCIENCE: Putting Out A Fire With Nothing But A Sound

Well this doesn't make any sense: DARPA, an agency of the United States Department of Defense tasked with inventing futuristic technology for military use, has built a machine that can put out a fire with only a sound: in the video below, they demonstrate a system that uses a specific frequency to extinguish flames.

The technology is part of DARPA's "instant fire suppression" program, and it works by increasing air velocity, which then thins the area of the flame where combustion takes place - the "flame boundary". At the same time, the pool of fuel that is keeping the fire going gets thinned out, leading the fire to cool down and go out. The best part? The noise doesn't even have to be offensively loud to be effective.

Of course, this is a controlled experiment in laboratory conditions - it isn't ready for use outside of the lab just yet. The goal of the "instant fire suppression" program is to control fires that break out in enclosed spaces like a cockpit or a ship's hold, and the success of this sound-based technology may take researchers one step closer. Check out the unlikely vid below:

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