The Latest Fire Extinguisher Uses Nothing But Sound To Put Out Fire

by Conscious Reminder

There’s a great invention in Fairfax that may soon start gathering stares. It’s the latest fire extinguisher designed by two students in the Department of Engineering, George Mason University, Virginia.

It is certainly the buzzing news everywhere since the University released the video with the students giving a demonstration of their invention. The device is an advancement in the way sound can be used to put out a fire.

Vet Tran and Seth Robertson, both of whom are senior students in the Department of Engineering conceived the idea. They decided to put their skills to use, which was undoubtedly challenging for them and at the same time thrilling.

Robertson on this account said: “Engineering means creating something completely unheard of.”  It’s certainly true! And if this invention of theirs works out, one’s definitely going to hear a lot more from them in this regard.

The Wave Extinguisher

Even though the thought of extinguishing fire through the use of sound seems to be completely novel, it really isn’t. US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) had initially tested this thought.

However, this wasn’t essentially put to use by anyone until Robertson and Tran decided to do so. With their hard work and deep understanding of the mechanism, in using sound as a means to extinguish a fire, they’ve manifested a well-studied idea into practical use.

Understanding the use of sound waves to extinguish a fire

I’m sure that most of you have at some point or the other

experienced dub music. And you certainly don’t just listen to it; you feel its rhythm through your body too. This is quite similar to the experience that you have with the sound that comes from deep bass; your body starts moving in the same uniform beat as the music—and the more you’re feeling the beats, the more you’re enjoying the music too, right?

Well, Robertson and Tran decided to use the same mechanism in their device too! The only difference lies in the way they’ve designed it such that these sound waves do not spread themselves in every direction but are effectively produced in a singular beam, in a focused manner.

Technically speaking, sound waves can manipulate both the burning material and the oxygen. Now, since oxygen is the cause for the fire to exist or even to spread itself, the purpose of this device is to separate it from the material it has attacked in order to stop the fire.

How it works is that sound waves are also pressure waves that can control the movement of oxygen (in this case) in the air molecules. Once this separation takes place, the fire extinguishes on its own.

Of course, it wasn’t all that simple, initially. The students did go through a couple of failures where the frequency couldn’t match the requirements of this operation. But better fail a number of times than never try at all, isn’t it?

So eventually Robertson and Tran were able to figure out that lower frequency worked better than high frequency, i.e., bass sounds ranging between 30 to 60 Hz were most effective to extinguish the fire. And thus they found out that music with deep bass like dubstep, hip-hop, trap, d&b, and grime can be used to douse fire.

This device is a portable one with a collimator made of cardboard to concentrate the sound beam and an amplifier to control the sound within a particular range. Interestingly, the device cost them just around $600 and it weighs only 9kgs.

At present, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson are trying to increase the potential of the machine to be used in case of forest fires.

However, if their device works well on small-scale fire accidents say, fire on stovetops, it can be used in combination with other systems for large-scale disasters too.

With any luck, something great will come out of their hard work and we’ll be able to device a unique mechanism to extinguish a fire.


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