Fighting fires with explosives

Scientists are a step closer to prove a new method, that can be used to extinguish an out-of-control bushfire, with explosives and not water.   Watch the videos…

The technique is not new and is been used for allot of years to put out oil well fires. The process is not the same as to blow out a candle, that relies on a blast of air to knock a flame off its fuel source. Typically high explosives, such as dynamite, are used to create a shockwave that pushes the burning fuel and local atmospheric oxygen away from the well.

Dr Graham Doig who is conducting the research in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he traveled to the Energetic Materials Research Testing Center, a high-explosives and bomb test site in a remote part of New Mexico, to scale up tests he originally conducted at UNSW’s.

Dr Graham Doig, explains:

“The sudden change in pressure across the shockwave, and then the impulse of the airflow behind it pushed the flame straight off the fuel source. As soon as the flame doesn’t have access to fuel anymore, it stops burning.

Fire is very fast moving if it gets up into the tree tops. If the fire is still smouldering or burning on the forest floor, it’s moving at a fraction of the speed, giving emergency services extra time to come in with water bombing or ground operations

We’re thinking of this as being a potential way to stop a fast uncontrolled fire in its tracks and give you a lot more time to get things under control or evacuate people that are downwind of the blaze.

“Of course as soon as the blast happens you’d want to detach the explosives from the helicopter. But helicopter transport would allow you to position the blast somewhere where people couldn’t otherwise get in easily.”

via gizmag

source UNSW