Scientists fight flames with electric wand
Harvard scientists say their findings could have implications for fire suppression methods in the future
March 31st, 2011
12:07 AM ET

Scientists fight flames with electric wand

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.

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Chooba

    Wow! But there are some flammable materials that are better burned than to pollute an area with super-toxic chemicals and other materials that are super-toxic after burning. More paperwork! What was it about a "paper-less society"?

    Better start looking for more ways to print paper, too! But maybe a non-flammable kind...

    March 31, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      Chooba be careful somebody is using our names for fake posts.

      March 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      I have been jazz7 for maybe a good month and half , dont know why u think your the real JAZZ7 , but your NOT. End of discussion. O and bye the way I will alter the version of the name, dont want to deal with this anymore.

      March 31, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    Hi Chooba, paper-less. Not in the ladies room I hope.

    March 31, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cobain M.Night

    Hi Chooba,so the a lithium laced tin foil hats dont seem to be working.

    March 31, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chooba

    Ha! I couldn't find any lithium. But they tell me that the mind-control rays are tired this morning, so I'm okay I think. 😉

    March 31, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sunar From Indonesia Phone: 628993362379 Web:

    great breakthrough there, yaho!

    March 31, 2011 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sutler

    Did the fire yell out, "Don't taze me bro?"

    March 31, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    jazzy pleeeeez tell me that's you

    March 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy

    @Sutler: LMAO

    March 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brad


    April 1, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |