Could firefighters one day use an electric wand to zap flames away?
In a new study, Harvard University scientists say they used an electric field to extinguish an open flame more than 1 foot tall - a development they say could yield fire-suppression alternatives to water and chemical retardants.
The scientists, part of a group headed by chemistry professor George M. Whitesides, connected a 600-watt amplifier to a metal wire that was fixed in place and pointed at the base of a methane flame.
When the amplifier was turned on, the wand-like wire, serving as an electrode, generated an oscillating electric field that essentially pushed the flame off its fuel source. This extinguished it, said chemist and lead author Ludovico Cademartiri, a postdoctoral fellow who presented the findings in California on Sunday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.FULL STORY