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Vaccum Extinguisher Method


What’s in news?

Scientists have developed a novel fire extinguisher for use in space environments that sucks in the flame as well as combustion product.

Key data’s:

  • Fire-related accidents are one example of potential space-related issues and researchers with Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan are here with a solution by developing “Fire Extinguish Method”
  • The new fire extinguisher works in reverse, sucking in flames rather than blowing them out.
  • Fires in enclosed spaces like deep sea vessels and spacecraft are particularly problematic and a special type of extinguisher that blasts CO2 is used in the place of traditional alternatives, namely, spraying extinguisher agents into the firing point. This is to prevent or suppress spreading the harmful combustion products such as fume, particulate matters, and toxic gas component across the entire enclosed cabin.
  • The newly developed a novel fire extinguisher for use in space environments that sucks in the flame as well as combustion product.
  • At present, fire extinguishers used in spacecraft or space stations in the US, Japan, Europe and Russia are mainly CO2-spraying gas extinguishers, although water mist was partially considered as an alternative.
  • Spraying type of extinguisher is not the best choice for space-environment because of the limited volume inside the cabin and the increase of CO2 concentration.

Problem with the traditional CO2 fire extinguisher:

  • Need to wear oxygen masks during use, slows down responses to a fire, giving it time to potentially cause more damage.
  • The potential for blasting both CO2 and harmful fire-related fumes through the limited interior cabin space.
  • Other harmful gases must be filtered out of the enclosed area, by sucking all harmful gases lead in delaying of the process.

Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM):

  • Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM) eliminates these problems by sucking in the flames and related toxic fumes.
  • The fire source, flames, fumes, and any materials produced by the fire are pulled into the extinguisher by vacuum.
  • A vacuum chamber conceals the problematic elements from the surrounding area and can be directly purged outside of the interior cabin space.
  • Using this method, the vessel’s filters won’t be taxed by the fumes, operators don’t need to put on oxygen masks, and there’s no related delay in dealing with the fire.
  • The product gas would be effectively removed from the cabin to reduce damage to the filter. Though this method sounds odd on Earth, it might be most preferable for space use.

Way forward:

  • The research team expects VEM to be an upcoming technique in future space missions and that the concept would also be applicable for extinguishing certain unusual fire which is severe and unmanageable with currently-used extinguishers such as metal powder fire.
  • It is also expected to be applied for the fire in clean rooms (eg operating room), where the spraying fire-fighting agents would cause severe damage to the structure and equipment to have large delay of reactivation.

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