Future Firefighters Could Fight Fire With Blasts of Flame-Bending Electricity

Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 13:30 in Physics & Chemistry

Inferno! It's tough to smother a roaring blaze with water alone, but using an electric wave blaster firefighters could someday snuff out flames by zapping them with pulses of electric current. dvs via Flickr In some respects, firefighting technology has come a long way over the past several decades--we now have flame suppressing foams and powders for instance, as well as new ways of delivering them to the fire. But fundamentally, we're still fighting fires the old fashioned way: point hose/bucket/pressurized container and drench. But a team of Harvard researchers envisions a day when firefighters will snuff out flames not with a physical suppressant but with a blast of electric current. Today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, scientists described a means of suppressing or extinguishing flames without flooding buildings or tapping a vast source of water. Noting a 200-year-old observation that electrical charges can affect...

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