Rumor has it that you can extinguish fire with sound

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by Esteban Soto (@esoe03)

“Engineering is all about finding a way to make the impossible possible.”

-Seth Robertson, student at George Mason University

It kind of looks like a magic trick, the fire disappears instantly. “There is nothing on the market that works” Robertson told the Washington Post. “So we thought we could be the ones to make it happen.” The whole inspiration of the project came from existing research on how sound waves could stop flames.

seth_rob_viet_tran

How it works

The basic concept is that sound waves are also “pressure waves, and they displace some of the oxygen” explained by Tran to the Washington Post. If you remember from chemistry class, Oxygen is fire’s best friend. Use the right frequency and the sound waves “separate the oxygen [in the fire] from the fuel. The pressure wave is going back and forth, and that agitates where the air is. That specific space is enough to keep the fire from reigniting.”

In this case music doesn’t work, it needs a consistent sound wave and music cannot provide that. They experimented with frequencies above 20,000 hertz with no success. Then turned the frequency down to 30-60 hertz and the results were immediate, fire disappears.

Local fire department got interested on their technology and asked them to test it on structure fires. This could be a good and cleaner solution to eliminate chemical-based extinguishers.

In the future, kids won’t think about fighting fire with water but fire with sound.
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