Fire extinguisher that can be used in space created

  1. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a new concept of fire extinguishing called Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM).
  2. VEM is based on the ‘reverse’ operation of the conventional fire extinguishing procedure. Instead of spraying out extinguishing agents at a fire, the VEM sucks the flames and burning materials into a vacuum chamber, where they can be safely extinguished.
  3. At present, fire extinguishers used in spacecraft or space stations in the US, Japan, Europe and Russia are mainly CO2-spraying gas extinguishers. However, there are many drawbacks.
  4. Firstly, these extinguisher pose significant risk because of the limited volume inside the cabin and the increase of CO2 concentration. It thus necessitates wearing an O2 mask before the device’s extinguisher process is executed, which causes a delay of action and allow the fire to grow.
  5. On the other hand, VEM is claimed to be suitable for highly enclosed environments such as space vehicles and submarines. This is because it would help prevent or suppress spreading the harmful combustion products such as fume, particulate matters, and toxic gas component across the entire enclosed cabin. Further it also speeds up response times by eliminating the need to put on oxygen masks.