The School of Engineering at the University of Maryland developed a new form of fire that looks like a blue whirl, producing fewer pollutants and soot than a classic fire.
Unlike traditional flames, the new phenomenon lacks the yellow glare, which comes from soot particles that are incompletely burnt.
The scientists explain that such a fire tornado is usually considered extremely destructive, and it can produce terror. However, they hope to use its power to do something good, just like it was the case with electricity.
The blue whirl study is the first to explore the practical applications of fire. It all started with the observations made on yellow whirls burning fuel on the water surface. While investigating the classic flames, the researchers observed the blue swirls, which produced lower gas emissions and were more efficient and stable than the yellow ones.
The classic flames get their color because of the soot particles that appear when the fuel is not burned completely. The little quantity of oxygen makes the whirls look yellow.
The new type of fire has only blue flames, indicating that the combustion is complete. On the other hand, a full burn means that there will be a less quantity of soot released into the air, making the process clean and less harmful to the environment.
The scientists believe that the blue whirl could be used to repair environmental disasters. Until now, the oil spills were cleaned up by corralling oil over the damaged part of the water and then burning them away. However, the method involved the release of a large quantity of pollutants into the air.
The new type of fire will not release the same amount of harmful smoke as the traditional flames, and thus the procedure will not involve additional environmental risks.
Another difference is that the blue whirl is calm, whereas the yellow one is turbulent. It is more stable, and it’s easier to produce than the blue-and-yellow flame.
Therefore, the researchers will be able to create the new form of fire inside the laboratory and study it further. The scientists want to study vortices, which can be observed in phenomena like the dust devil, whirlpools, smoke rings, or tornados.
In the special case of the blue flames, there might be a chance to study how a vortex works in terms of fluid mechanics. The accretion disks inside black holes are also considered to contain vortices.
Image Source: Pixabay