Researchers from the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering have discovered a new type of flame called the 'Blue Whirl,' marking the first time since prehistoric times that anyone could honestly say that they discovered fire. By harnessing "fire tornadoes," a well-known and dangerous effect in which columns of fire swirl vertically (like a tornado,) the researchers were able to create a far safer and more efficient version of the phenomenon.
Normal flames glow orange because of inefficiency: the orange color actually comes from a lack of oxygen that causes soot particles and other pollutants to be released into the air. The Blue Whirl's color means that it's burning its fuel with an incredibly high efficiency. This burning efficiency could be a boon for the environment in many ways, including in the case of an oil spill, as responders could use the Blue Whirl to burn away the spilled oil without releasing pollutants.
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