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28 Mar, 2015 02:26

All about that bass: Sound-based fire extinguisher puts out flames (VIDEO)

All about that bass: Sound-based fire extinguisher puts out flames (VIDEO)

Two engineering students from George Mason University are using the unique power of sound to put out flames – and they’re hoping the technology will become powerful enough to help extinguish forest fires.

The sound-based fire extinguisher they recently demoed uses low-frequency sound waves to take out flames. In a video posted on YouTube, students Viet Tran and Seth Robertson demonstrated their booming new device.

“I see this device being applied to a lot of things. First off, I think in the kitchen, it could be on top a stove top,” said Tran, who also imagines far bigger uses for the technology.

“Eventually, I’d like to see this applied to swarm robotics, where it’d be attached to a drone, and that would be applied to forest fires or even building fires where you wouldn’t want to sacrifice human life.”

Tran and Robertson began with the idea that sound waves can cause a physical impact on objects, reported science news website Tech Xplore. If sound waves could be used to come between whatever’s burning and oxygen – which fuels the fire – the students believed the flames themselves would go out.

Initial experiments with high-frequency sound waves didn’t yield many results, but low-frequency waves (30-60 Hertz) actually worked.

Still, it’s unclear just how effective the concept could be when it comes to putting out large fires. As noted by Tech Xplore, the current design does not feature a coolant, so it’s possible that once the sound waves halt, a still-hot object could reignite.

With a preliminary patent in hand, though, the two are determined to explore the possibilities.

“Engineering is all about finding a way to make the impossible possible,” said Robertson, “so that’s what we do."