DARPA’s New High-Tech Fire Extinguisher

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 23 2012 1:56 PM

DARPA’s New High-Tech Fire Extinguisher   

107060506
This photo taken on Nov. 21, 2010, shows a firefighter carrying a fire extinguisher.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Unhappy with the current state of fire extinguishers, DARPA, the military research agency, is trying something new: a wand-like device that can eliminate flames without the messy, foamy residue and other drawbacks. Watch it in action:

The “Instant Fire Suppression” project is intended to create new ways to combat flames in enclosed combat situations and vehicles like Humvees.  This will require a new approach to fire management. DARPA’s website explains:

Fire suppression technologies have focused largely on disrupting the chemical reactions involved in combustion.  From a physics point of view, however, flames are cold plasmas comprising mobile electrons and slower positive ions.  By using physics techniques rather than combustion chemistry, it may be possible to manipulate and extinguish flames.
Advertisement

The problem, as Geekosystem points out, is scalability: The wand may technically work, under certain circumstances, but it certainly isn’t ready for prime time on the battlefield or in the home.

Read more on Gizmodo and Geekosystem.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM Where Pregnant Women Aren't Allowed to Work After 36 Weeks  
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.