We all know the power of Harry Potter’s magic wand. But did you know it could possibly help future firefighters extinguish fires?
Well not Harry’s exact wand, but scientists have finally invented a way of controlling fires via wands that can extinguish them with electricity, a physicist said recently.
These devices, similar to Harry Potter-style wands, could help firefighters battle flames without having to damage or destroy property by dousing them with water and foam.
“Controlling fires is an enormously difficult challenge,” said Harvard chemist Ludovico Cademartiri, who reported on the research. “Our research has shown that by applying large electric fields we can suppress flames very rapidly. We’re very excited about the results of this relatively unexplored area of research.”
Firefighters currently use water, foam, powder and other substances to extinguish flames. The new technology could allow them to put out fires remotely — without delivering material to the flame — and suppress fires from a distance. The technology could also save water and avoid the use of fire-fighting materials that could potentially harm the environment, the scientists suggest.
In the new study, they connected a powerful electrical amplifier to a wand-like probe and used the device to shoot beams of electricity at an open flame more than a foot high. Almost instantly, the flame was snuffed out. Much to their fascination, it worked time and again.
The device consisted of a 600-watt amplifier, or about the same power as a high-end car stereo system. However, Cademartiri believes that a power source with only a tenth of this wattage could have similar flame-suppressing effect. That could be a boon to firefighters, since it would enable use of portable flame-tamer devices, which perhaps could be hand-carried or fit into a backpack.
How exciting! How many of us have seen the damage raging forest fires can do? With this technology, perhaps more land and homes can be saved. I can’t wait to see it in action. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why this works, but if it does the job (and apparently it does) then they should definitely continue moving forward with it.