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‘Fire Whirls’ to Remediate Oil on Water

FEBRUARY 9, 2018 -- OR&R Director Dave Westerholm, along with the Emergency Response Division Chief Scott Lundgren and OR&R Senior Scientist Lisa DiPinto, visited the lab at University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering where Elaine Oran, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering presented her lab's research on the use of fire whirls, also commonly known as fire devils, to remediate oil on water.

Man with column of fire in the background.
Dave Westerholm at the demonstration of a “fire whirl.” Image credit: NOAA.

These fires have higher combustion efficiency and reduced emissions, particularly soot, so are a relatively clean burning technique. Work is underway in her lab to study the potential to create them in the field, characterize the burning rate, quantify the emissions and burn residues, understand the limitations of their use, and evaluate their use as another oil spill remediation tool. 

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See also: Harnessing the Power of ‘Fire Whirls’ - A Review

Video: Fire Whirl

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flame burning
Fire whirl demonstration at University of Maryland. Credit: University of Maryland.

Last updated Jun. 14, 2019