Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Fire Whirl

PostedAugust 28, 2016

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Anchor Lede: Researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered a never-before-seen type of fire…which is – at the same time – dangerous, beautiful, and potentially useful.

Randy Atkins: Fire might be an efficient way of burning up oil spills, so engineering professor Elaine Oran, and her team at the University of Maryland, were studying violent flames whirling on water in her lab when something surprising happened. The flames suddenly calmed and shrunk…

Elaine Oran: …and there was just this little blue beautiful whirl just going around and around…

Randy Atkins: It looked like spinning top, and...

Elaine Oran: … it was consuming all the fuel and it was pulling the fuel to it also.

Randy Atkins: Importantly…

Elaine Oran: It’s blue, not yellow, which means no soot.

Randy Atkins: Though Oran’s lab is running more tests, this newly discovered phenomenon...

Elaine Oran: …we can reproduce it every time…