Engineers are using explosives to put out fires
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Image: UNSW TV

Imagine next time there's a remote bushfire, instead of a water canon, a helicopter flies in and blasts the area with explosives.

It sounds like a really bad idea, but early research by an engineer at the University of New South Wales in Australia suggests that controlled explosions can be used to put out out-of-control bush fires.

It works kind of like blowing out a candle - using explosives, a blast of air knocks the flame off its fuel source and puts it out.

And it looks as cool as it rounds, just watch the technique put out a one-metre flame fuelled by a propane burner.

It's a method that's been used for decades to put out oil well fires on rigs, and now Dr Graham Doig from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is hoping the same process will help control deadly bushfires.

"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," Doig explains in a press release. "As soon as the flame doesn't have access to fuel anymore, it stops burning."

Doig has been testing the procedure in New Mexico, and hopes it can be scaled up to fight out-of-control bushfires in remote areas.

He believes that by knocking flames off treetops and blasting any loose, dry material to the forest floor, it can help fires burn more slowly, if at all.

See Doig explain his work in further detail.

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