Scientists realize they can use fire tornadoes to clean up oil spills

first_imgSometimes the most amazing discoveries can come from the most horrific accidents.Such is the case with the fire tornado, which has inspired scientists to work on a new flame called the Blue Whirl. A team of researchers coined the nickname after recreating a famous fire that started when lightning hit a Jim Beam warehouse in 2003 and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of whiskey into a nearby lake. The spirits set on fire, tornadoes spiraled off from the surface for nearly an hour, and the world held hands and wept.When researchers got done crying over this tragic loss, they realized that they had just seen something that actually could useful for removing oil spills. See, unlike “firenadoes,” which sometimes appear in wildfires and look equally cool (though far less tragic), blue whirls burn clean and don’t distribute soot around the environment. This is what the blue flame means- it’s burning so hot thanks to the liquor that everything is getting combusted. This would effectively burn off all of the oil without getting the rest of the water fouled up.So the scientists took a bath of water and ignited liquid fuel floating on top of it, sucking air from the top to create a vortex. It burned like a normal fire for a moment before settling into the Blue Whirl, as you can see below.Now the only trick is going to be finding a way to control these blue blurs. This is usually the part of the story where a mad scientist steals this research and uses it to control mankind, but if we’re lucky we might have a way to stop oil spills that can truly help the environment, and look pretty awesome while doing so.last_img