My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher - George Mason University Engineering Graduate Students extinguish Fires using DARPA Research

Friday, March 27, 2015

Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher - George Mason University Engineering Graduate Students extinguish Fires using DARPA Research

My fellow readers, turns out you can extinguish a fire using sound.

And here was I thinking that Sound could only transfer Power wireless to recharge laptops and smartphones as explained in my blog article entitled “Meredith Perry's Ubeam Ultrasonic Power Transfer and the Venture Capitalists - Ubeam's Wireless Charging Future is a Good Vibration with a Magnetic Personality”.

Computer engineering major Viet Tran and electrical engineering major Seth Robertson of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia have developed a way to put out fires using sound as stated in the article “Engineering students extinguish fire with sound”, published March 26, 2015 5:27 PM PDT by Michelle Starr, CNET News.

However, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson Sound based fire extinguisher, is a huge improvement; they've developed a way to make their portable and handheld utilizing the research done by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and other before them.

So how does sound extinguish a fire?

Extinguishing fire with sound – DARPA Research the basis of Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher

Theirs is not the first to demonstrate that capability of putting out fires using sound, as DARPA had previously demonstrated that this was possible as shown below.

DARPA research was based on the initial research work of Dmitriy Plaks and several of his fellow students at the University of West Georgia in 2004 as detailed in the article “When Fire Strikes, Stop, Drop and... Sing?”, published January 24, 2008 by Alison Snyder, Scientific American.

Like the researchers at the University of West Georgia, they hoped to use this technology in space to out fires as using water is not an option.

Onboard the ISS (International Space Station) water is so precious; every drop of moisture onboard the ISS is recycled and is the basis of the technology behind the Orbital Shower System as explained in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “Orbital Systems Shower of the Future is a Water Recycler for your Favourite Martian”.

Hence you can see why I’m pretty excited about this story.

Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher - How Viet Tran and Seth Robertson Sound based fire extinguisher probably works

To be honest, I’m not quite sure that even the explanation that I’m about to give even makes sense.

Their prototype for the Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher consists of a sound frequency generator, a small amplifier and a collimator to focus the sound waves in specific direction as shown in the video above. Basically a portable Subwoofer that looks like a prop from Ghostbusters!

From cursory reading, the concept seems to be based on choosing a particular frequency, around 30 to 60 Hz that causes oxygen (O2(g)) molecules in the fire to get displaced. Music is obviously unsuitable; the music is a mixture of mostly high and low bass notes, with 30 to 60 Hz being more associated with a Subwoofer.

Through their experimentation, they also discovered that higher frequencies caused the flames to vibrate, which I'd expect, as the Carbon Dioxide (CO2(g)) gas, Water Vapour (H2O(g)) that vapourizeds and unburnt hydrocarbons would have enough mass to be influenced by these high frequencies.

That might have future applications as it relates to manipulating fire and might just be they way that Pyro, a character in X-Men Series of Comics, is able to control fire.

In fact, there is copious evidence online of the use of high frequency sounds, particularly Ultrasonic frequencies to lift and move minute objects as explained in the DNEWS video below.

It’s possible therefore that at 30 to 60 Hz, the energy in the pressure waves that make up sound prevent oxygen (O2(g)) molecules from forming molecular bonds and may be equivalent to the energy needed for oxygen (O2(g)) molecules to react with atoms in a macro-molecular structure such as wood or a liquid Hydrocarbon.

This as in order for oxygen to create flames of a fire during combustion, the bond energy between the covalently bonded molecules or atoms of any macromolecular structure that may be Polar or Van Der Waals Force based, have to be overcome. Once that is overcome, the oxygen can react with individual atoms of molecules.

Possibly what happens here is that at 30 to 60 Hz, the vibration energy is enough to prevent the exchange of electron on a subatomic level from happening, thereby creating a situation where oxygen can be present but cannot react, as the energy needed to lose the electron is already being supplied by the low frequency sound, thus preventing the reaction from taking place.

At least, that's my explanation from a Chemistry point of view being based on Engineering Experience working in the Telecommunications field and Bauxite Mining sector at CWJ (2001 to 2004), CLARO Jamaica (2008 to 2009) and then at JAMALCO (2014) as laid out in my Engineering Resume and Diploma and Degree qualifications for anyone to see!

Commercial possibilities for Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher – Kickstarter is possible and VC’s may be circling

It would be interesting and totally no surprise, if these two (2) George Mason University final year students Viet Tran and Seth Robertson were to follow in the footsteps of Meredith Perry and start their own company to license their technology for use on the ISS (International Space Station) or for more down-to-Earth uses putting out fire in your kitchen!

This is a story to watch over the next few months, as VC (Venture Capitalist) may already be circling and they may end up at CES 2016 if they haven't started a Kickstarter to make this device into commercially viable product.

They still have a long way to go, such as figuring how much energy is needed for larger fires as well as how to prevent fire from re-igniting, especially if they fuelled by hydrocarbon combustibles like plastic or rubber as explained in the article “When it comes to putting out fire, GMU students show it’s all about that bass”, published March 22 2015 by Tom Jackman, The Washington Post.

To Computer engineering major Viet Tran and electrical engineering major Seth Robertson of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, congratulation on your invention, making a POC (Proof of Concept) idea of a Portable Sound Fire Extinguisher a reality.

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