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DARPA fights fire with sound and electricity, hopes 'ionic wind' could save lives in the field


Fire, frenemy of humanity since time immemorial. Typical extinguishing methods have involved water, chemicals and even blankets, but DARPA wanted to see if there was another, more pragmatic way. Starting with the understanding of fire actually being a cold plasma, DARPA then explored fire's electromagnetic and acoustic qualities, and discovered two potential ways to quell the flame, one using electrons, the other, sound. The electron technique creates an oscillating field that separates the fire and fuel dubbed "ionic wind," the other method creates an acoustic field that increases the air velocity (thinning the flame boundary) and causes the flames to widen and drop in temperature, dispersing the fire's energy. The concepts have been proven, but scaling these up to real world solutions is a whole different matter. Light up the videos after the break to see them in action.

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