Scientists Discover A New Type Of Fire Called ‘Blue Whirl’

Posted: Aug 9 2016, 11:30am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 9 2016, 10:36pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Discover a New Type of Swilring Fire Called ‘Blue Whirl’
A transition from yellow to completely blue flame. Credit: University of Maryland

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The new fire is eco-friendly and can be used for cleaner burning of oil spills and reducing carbon emissions.

Scientists have just discovered a new kind of fire that can swirl like a tornado.

Unlike traditional fire whirls or fire tornadoes, the new fire does not have the distinctive yellow color, meaning it contains sufficient oxygen to burn a material without leaving any soot. Soot is a black powder mainly comprised of carbon and is produced by incomplete burning of coal, oil, wood or other fuels. Since the new fire burns a material completely and does not produce black carbon- rich particles, the characteristic makes the fire safer and eco-friendly.

Scientists are calling it ‘blue whirl' and believe it has implications for wide range of purposes from reducing carbon emissions to cleaning up oil spills.

“Blue whirls evolve from traditional yellow fire whirls. The yellow color is due to radiating soot particles, which form when there is not enough oxygen to burn the fuel completely,” said co-author Elaine Oran, Glenn L. Martin Institute.

“Blue in the whirl indicates there is enough oxygen for complete combustion, which means less or no soot, and is therefore a cleaner burn.”

To test the efficiency of blue whirl, researchers used it on water and what they discover was absolutely stunning. The swirling flame produced by the fire was smaller, faster and very stable and it burns entirely blue. The new fire is capable of meeting the growing demand of cleaner and more efficient fire burn which cannot release harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

“This is the first time fire whirls have been studied for their practical applications,” said co-author Michael Gollner. “A fire tornado has long been seen as this incredibly scary, destructive thing. But, like electricity, can you harness it for good? If we can understand it, then maybe we can control and use it.”

When the fire was placed on the surface, it performed remarkably well and the transition from yellow to blue flame was fairly quick. The fire is currently created in lab and within a limited space. Scientists are hoping to make it on a large-scale level in future.

“A fire whirl is usually turbulent, but this blue whirl is very quiet and stable without visible or audible signs of turbulence,” said corresponding author Huahua Xiao. “It’s really a very exciting discovery that offers important possibilities both within and outside of the research lab.”

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