Lucy Huang
August 30, 2015 6:39 am

When there is a fire to put out, our first instinct is to douse it water, snuff it with a blanket or smother it with chemical extinguishers. With the help of recent graduates of George Mason University, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson, we may soon be able to add blast of sound waves to that list of firing fighting options.

Sound waves, depending on the pitch and frequency, can agitate molecules in the air. If this is hard to believe, just remember that sound waves can do things like shatter glass. Blasting sound waves towards a fire can increase the velocity of the air around it. By disrupting the air around the fire, the fire loses contact with its main fuel source—oxygen—and ultimately burns out.

Tran and Robertson were able to use these basic principles of sound waves to develop a 20-pound, hand-held prototype. Their prototype extinguisher is comprised of an amplifier and a collimator to focus the sound. When the two first began developing the prototype, they tested different frequencies of sounds on small fires and discovered that bass frequencies, around 30-60 hertz were the most effective. For reference of what that might sound like, think of the thumping bass in most hip-hop songs.

While this 20-pound prototype can extinguish small house fires, the duo hopes to create an army of drones with the sonic extinguisher attached. This way, larger blazes such as forest fires can be fought with less water and fewer casualties.

To see out the prototype in action, check out this video:

(Image via YouTube/Vevo)

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