George Mason Students Invent Device To Douse Fires With Sound Waves

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 7.59.39 PMThis is one of the most impressive new inventions that I have seen recently and it is the work of two George Mason students. Engineering seniors Viet Tran and Seth Robertson have created a fire extinguisher using low-frequency sound waves to douse a blaze. Question: does this mean that there are never any kitchen fires in the home of Barry White?

According to George Mason, the two undergraduate students decided to try to create the system as a class project for Advanced Senior Design. A thumping bass may do more than light up a party—it could flat out extinguish it, thanks to a new sound-blasting fire extinguisher by George Mason University undergrads.

The device cost $600 to make and the students are moving to patent the design. The students knew that Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was working on the concept as was West Georgia University but they found a relatively low-cost design that worked.

The system works by using sound waves (which are also pressure waves) to displace some of the oxygen.” As Tran explained, at a certain frequency, the sound waves “separate the oxygen [in the fire] from the fuel. The pressure wave is going back and forth, and that agitates where the air is. That specific space is enough to keep the fire from reigniting.”

Fortunately, I have my own low frequency fire extinguisher always available in my home:

Very cool.

21 thoughts on “George Mason Students Invent Device To Douse Fires With Sound Waves”

  1. Why so much negative talk? How about “it can’t YET”? Remember Apple and Microsoft, created by geeks. Did anyone think then they would be what they are now?

    If that thing could be made faster/cheaper, better for homes than current extinguishers with chemicals.

  2. I love to see such creativity. I don’t know if it will work on large scale applications, or if it will have negative side effects for the user or nearby life forms. But that intellectual creative process and the excitement about trying something new is so interesting.

    I know my 12 year old self would be completely geeking out about the tech we take for granted today. I wonder what will be the norm 30 years from now.

  3. What about the side effects? Sure, you’re frying bacon and the pan ignites and an automatic sound driven fire extinguisher puts out the fire and what else? So, somehow, you find yourself back later in the day to fry bacon again. Fire, sound, and a subtle feeling of softness around, well, just below the waist, stove top level. Then that craving for bacon again and it is not even lunch time…

  4. Put to test.

    Lithium battery factory is on fire. Can’t use water. Lithium yields hydrogen gas + lithium hydroxide with water.
    A lithium battery factory blew up in NJ because of this. How to put out?

  5. ” If the device removes the oxygen that fires feed on
    Only focally, and in a sinus wave pattern.

    ” it does not seem to have a large scale application.
    Unless you had 100 drones with them.

  6. I can geeks getting excited about this, but it does not seem to have a large scale application.

  7. My husband is an ex volunteer fire fighter. He just laughed when I told him about this invention and said the same thing about applying it to larger structure fires. Ain’t gonna work.

    Currently our VFD uses a foam type of suppression for most structure fires. This coats the entire area and suffocates the fire without blowing up the people and critters that happen to be nearby with subsonic death rays.

  8. Fire needs a constant supply of oxygen, or it dies quickly. I can hold my breath for 3 minutes. Well, I used to be able anyway. Jim22 is a firefighter. Hope he weighs in on this.

  9. How many of you guys (non gender specific) blew candles out with this idea in college? Can do the same thing with was a can and balloon rubber membrane. Where do I pick up my engineering degree?

  10. DBQ, This is how more practical adaptations of an invention begin. Remember bag cell phones?

  11. I see this as an expensive and not very practical device. The use would be limited to small fires only which can already be extinguished in other ways.

    The application to larger fires, like a burning building, is impractical and in areas where there would be living beings nearby could be dangerous. If the device removes the oxygen that fires feed on, what would it do to a human or animal body.

    It might make a really keen death ray though if the sound could be focused very narrowly, extend far enough away and be able to be aimed correctly. Distance and focus.

  12. Large scale use practical?

    Note: 50 Hz is the ‘sweet spot’ for snuffing a flame.

    It’s interesting to note that the Mythbusters’ experiments agreed with the work done by the University of West Georgia students: the ‘Busters found that their (relatively large) flame was extinguished at 55 Hz.
    However, their experiments also suggest that sound will not be a particularly practical method of extinguishing: they needed sounds on the order of 149 dB (comparable to a military jet takeoff and just below
    the threshold of (eardrum rupturing) to snuff the flame!

  13. Now that is fascinating, but what they should really do is offer a dual-use device with settings for both “Fire Suppression” and “Protestor Suppression.” They’d make a killing!

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