Fire extinguishers may soon be a thing of the past: Wave a magic electric wand at a flame and you can snuff it out in milliseconds, according to Dr. Ludovico Cademartiri, The Guardian reports.
According to The Guardian article, a paper presented to the American Chemical Society, Cademartiris Harvard University team reported that they had been able to extinguish an 18-inch [45-centimetre] flame merely by using an electrified metal wire.
The beam of electricity came from a 600-watt amplifier, about the same power as a car stereo system so, the firefighter of the future would only need an ultra-portable power pack and wire rather than a cumbersome hose and large quantities of water or foam.
How does it work, though?
Its based on the observation made some 200 years ago, that electricity can change the shape of flames. Previous experiments involved direct current, or DC. But Cademartiris group used oscillating AC voltage creating an organized flow of charged particles inside the flame that literally pushes the flame away from the fuel source, putting it out.