Heeee… Sorry. Geeking out. I only started keeping close track of DARPA’s projects a few months ago, and they keep announcing stuff that is both new to me and extremely cool.
Anyway. A post on DARPA’s press release site yesterday afternoon described their Instant Fire Suppression project. Imagine, if you will, that you’re faced with a fire. You don’t have a fire extinguisher, or a bucket of water; all you’ve got is a magic wand. Wave the wand over the fire once, and it flickers and goes down. Wave it twice, and the fire gutters, barely glowing. Wave it three times, and the fire is completely out. Now watch the video. That’s damn near what they’re doing.
The IFS project was supposed to look at ways to disrupt the physical structure and fluid dynamics of flames, rather than disrupting the chemical reactions that keep it going. That “magic wand” is basically a specially tinkered electrode – scale it up (which they’ve found difficult, but it’s early days yet, right?) and we might see a brand new form of fire extinguisher on the market someday.