The Department of Mechanical Engineering at
Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a new concept of fire
extinguishing called Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM).
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.
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.
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.
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.