The Pentagon’s standard operating procedure might have called at one time to fight fire with fire. Their Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, is changing that, though, right before our eyes — and ears.
Darpa has come public with one of their latest endeavors, and says that it’s the first time that advancements have been made in this particular field in at least half a century. After making and modifying space age airplanes and even realistic robots a reality, it only makes sense then that Darpa researchers are wrapping their brains around — fire? Darpa says that they’ve been able to extinguish flames by suffocating fire with only sound, and have released a video explaining just that.
By surrounding an open liquid flame with speakers, Darpa scientists have discovered that they are able to snuff fire by creating an acoustic field. The noise is able to increase air velocity around the fire and thus thin the space where combustion occurs. From there, even intense flames can be more easily doused by drowning them with sound.
“We have shown that the physics of combustion still has surprises in store for us,” Darpa manager Matthew Goodman explains in a statement. “Perhaps these results will spur new ideas and applications in combustion research.”
That’s saying a lot, especially since researchers have been trying to figure out how to put out fires with sound since at least 2008. That’s when Darpa first began experimenting in using acoustic fields to help fight fires, but only recently has that hard work paid off. They finally succeeded in extinguishing fire with sound back in December, but only recently has the agency come forth with the proof.
The next step for Darpa will most likely be to see if they can recreate this experiment on grander scale. So far they have only released proof that shows them putting out a small fire contained in a space of just 10 square centimeters, but since these same scientists have been able to take the same technology behind drone aircraft and shrink them to a nearly microscopic level in only a few years, the future really is whatever they want it to be.