Future firefighters could use flame snuffing bolts of electricity

Firefighters have been dousing flames with water for centuries. Sure the water delivery tech has improved a lot, but the basic approach of dumping water on the flames goes back to Roman times. Now a group of scientists from Harvard is proposing a way to extinguish flames using high powered jolts of electricity.

Scientists have known for centuries that an electric field will bend the shape of a flame, so this technology takes that thinking a step further with a wand that can fire flame snuffing pulses of electrically charged air towards the fire. This allows the firefighter to clear a path through the flames allowing the firefighters in, while letting any trapped people escape. They also see a future where traditional water sprinkler systems will be replaced by flame snuffing electrical pulse generators.

If this really works, the potential advantages over using water are huge. For starters, it would eliminate the water damage that often causes far more property damage than the flames themselves during a small fire in a high rise building. Also, firefighters would no longer require a massive supply of water to feed their nozzles.

On a somewhat more selfish note, if we could get rid of all those pesky fire hydrants it would open up a massive number of new parking spots here in New York City.

EurekaAlert, via PopSci

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