In a ‘Eureka!’ moment, a new invention promises to revolutionize the techniques used in firefighting today. This device would provide a helping hand to firefighters in tackling fire breakouts in a safer way. It has been invented by two students of an engineering school in Fairfax, Virginia. The students credited with the invention of this new fire extinguisher are Seth Robertson and Viet Tran. It looks like any other conventional fire extinguisher in the market. However, the technology used in this one is revolutionary. It has an built-in loudspeaker which is as big as a subwoofer and drums out sound waves. This is totally different from the present day fire extinguishers which use carbon dioxide gas and other chemicals in their compressed air tank.
The sound emitted is not musical or songs from DVDs that people like listening to. It is simply a low humming sound which is emitted from the nozzle of this new fire extinguisher. However, flames get extinguished when it is turned towards them. It is technically directing the constant and repeated blasts of air used by sound waves to blow out the fire. Robertson and Tran had earlier guessed that high-pitched sound tones would work for extinguishing fire. But that did not happen.
Later, they used sound tones of a lower-frequency to check if anything changed. That was the ‘Eureka!’ moment for the two guys that could potentially revolutionize firefighting techniques used around the world if this new invention catches on. Tran said that it is the low-frequency thumping bass sounds, something that is used in hip-hop music that works.
As of now, the firefighting techniques used globally could definitely benefit a great deal from the shot in the arm that this new invention provides. Water, foam, chemicals, and powder are the means used to extinguish fire today. So, skeptics could question the need and the sanity in adding another one to the list. But extinguishing a fire breakout normally causes a huge problem of chemical residue at the site and its neighboring areas. Pollution of underground water caused on a large-scale is another big issue.
Use of sound waves provides a much more environment-friendly option. The inventors now are visualizing the possibility of their new fire extinguishers being used commonly by people for putting out grease fires in their kitchens. They also hope that astronauts could use them in space to extinguish fire as using normal extinguishers causes it’s left over contents and chemicals to spread all over. Robertson further clarified that sound waves could be directed at the flames even at zero gravity.
As per the George Mason University, Robertson and Tran have achieved what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency could not. The defense agency has run many experiments in firefighting using sound waves. But the agency could not make the technology as compact and easily transferable as an extinguisher. The two guys have developed this new fire extinguisher as a project for their final exams in their senior year.
Robertson and Tran also shared that most of their professors and friends were very apprehensive about their idea. They thought it was a sure shot failure and would get them a straight ‘F’. Later, Prof. Brian Mark, who also felt that the project might not be a success, agreed to be their mentor. The university is readily helping the two now in applying for a provisional patent after their ‘Eureka!’ moment of the new invention promises to revolutionize the techniques used in firefighting.
By Ankur Sinha