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F1 Forest Fire Foiler

Inspired by volcanoes on Io. . .
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A famous photograph of Io shows an umbrella-shaped plume spraying up from a volcanic vent on Io's surface. Naturally, this suggests a solution to forest fires in California. Essentially, its an artificial water volcano.

Suppose we took some of those powerful F1 engine pumps used by the Saturn V in its first stage and mounted them underground for aesthetic purposes. During the hot, dry seasons when the threat of fire is most - the aquifers being at their lowest - these pumps would be ready to shoot masses of water high into the air to create a very crude form of 'rain'.

For a given flow capacity of a pump, the mass of water will be expelled to a certain distance or, in this case, height. Since the dry season also includes substantial winds, these would be utilized to distribute the water, rain fashion, over a greater area. The distribution of water would be somewhat unequal, but the idea is to prevent fires from burning out of control by denying, over geographically significant areas, the ultra-dry foliage needed to sustain fires. Definitely, we want to avoid soaking slopes to the point where topsoils begin to flow downhill. If there is no wind, the water comes down in a circular pattern with the pump in the center. Stationing these pumps at appropriate intervals ensures that most of a region's foliage can be protected, at least to some extent.

Each 'rain' would be very brief as it is only intended to wet down the foliage and prevent its igniting. A minute or two should suffice. If these pump stations were aligned in such a way as to wet down an entire line of foliage many kilometers long and a kilometer or so wide, the effect would be to slow down fires that do get started when they hit moister foliage.

An important side benefit is that firefighters could use these pump stations as refuge if they are ever caught in a firestorm.

Water could be tanked in volumes at least as large as the Saturn's first stages, though much larger is probably better. The initial sourcing of the water could be through discreetly hidden pipelines that refill the tanks after a certain amount has been used. The water is derived from seawater, its harmful salts and minerals removed by solar-powered desalination systems.

Moonguy, Aug 12 2008

Firediving http://www.firediving.com/
[normzone, Aug 13 2008]

My take on the problem Borate_20Bouncing_20Bettys
[normzone, Aug 13 2008]

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       Consider the amount of water it would take to moisten the forest. Represent the forest as a flat sheet measuring 1 square kilometer. Assume 1 ml (=1 cubic centimeter) of water to moisten each square centimeter of the flat forest. I got 1 million liters. This would need to be repeated each day.   

       I think that these pumps had better tap directly into the aquifer, low or no.
bungston, Aug 12 2008
  

       //...this would have to be repeated each day.//   

       Are you meaning during a fire or as a preventative measure? The objective is to either prevent foliage combustion altogether or slow it to a point where other fire fighting means can be more effective. A 1 cm deep watering over a square acre is ten billion cubic centimeters. This equals 10,000 cubic meters. A tank 50 meters by 25 meters would hold almost five times that much (about 49,000 cubic meters).
Moonguy, Aug 12 2008
  

       //...this would have to be repeated each day.//   

       Are you meaning during a fire or as a preventative measure? The objective is to either prevent foliage combustion altogether or slow it to a point where other fire fighting means can be more effective. A 1 cm deep watering over a square acre is ten billion cubic centimeters. This equals 10,000 cubic meters. A tank 50 meters by 25 meters would hold almost five times that much (about 49,000 cubic meters).
Moonguy, Aug 12 2008
  

       ///...this would have to be repeated each day.///   

       now it has been repeated 4 times in the same day!   

       I meant as a preventative measure.
bungston, Aug 13 2008
  

       O.K. I'll pass that on to Smokey and let him get back to you. . .
Moonguy, Aug 13 2008
  

       This sounds like an excellent water park ride but the landing might be a little violent.
CwP, Aug 13 2008
  

       Definitely has firediving potential. And I recommend fire:public as a category.
normzone, Aug 13 2008
  

       [CwP] Only once.
Moonguy, Aug 13 2008
  

       // A tank 50 meters by 25 meters would hold almost five times that much (about 49,000 cubic meters).//   

       You fail... at basic communication. You meant to say - "a circular tank 50 metres across and 25 metres deep would hold..."   

       Anyway, are you suggesting that we have a 50kL tank for every five acres of land?   

       Next, what the hell is a square acre? See google for everything wrong about using the tautological term "square acre". I take it you mean an acre. Which is roughly 4000 m^2, 40% of a hectare, that's 40mX100m. So. We have a 1cm deep coverage, right? I get that as 40m^3, not 10,000.   

       So, you'd need a shipping-container sized tank per acre.
Custardguts, Aug 14 2008
  

       Well, any way to reduce fire damage is worth examination.   

       This idea does seem to have a number of benefits. Particularly, the fact that it is ground-based should reduce a lot of damage. Helicopters and airplanes tend to be rather high maintenance devices. The immobile nature of the device also should allow you to design it with electrical power sources, which have the potential to be cleaner than fuel powered aircraft.   

       There would of course be several concerns. The structural soundness of the well it derives water from must be ensured. Filtration to keep particles out of the pumps might be necessary. Ways to keep people out of the wells might also be necessary. Continuous power would be needed. The reliability of the pumps over time might also be a concern, since they were sort of designed for one-time usage.   

       These would probably have to be dug into the earth, and fenced off, mostly in national forests close to communities, I suppose... so there could also be a very serious concern for the aesthetics of the moved dirt, and the fence.
ye_river_xiv, Aug 15 2008
  

       [Custardguts] 'Square acre' should have read square kilometer. Good thing I am not in real estate. No, I am not suggesting a tank for every 'five square acres'. I'm suggesting a tank/pump unit for every square kilometer. The F-1 pumps are powerful enough to create artificial geysers. Water falls back to earth from a great height in a pattern similar to what volcanoes on Io do (only with sulfur). It is done when conditions are ripe for ignition as a way of preventing it.
Moonguy, Aug 16 2008
  

       I do not like the pump. Pumps require maintenance and require moving parts. The goal here is to loft a quantity of water to a certain height. Explosives are much less fussy. The holding tank then becomes a barrel from which to expel the water. The tank would gradually refill from an aquifer using a... pump. But a little one. Windmill powered.
bungston, Aug 16 2008
  

       [Bungston] Pumps do require regular maintenance. There is a term for this: gainful employment opportunity.   

       As for explosives, are you saying you are comfortable with the idea of substantial explosive charges just waiting, ready to go off on a moments notice? How nostalgic. Reminds me of my high school chemistry teacher. Come to think of it, I believe his next parole hearing is coming up soon. . .
Moonguy, Aug 18 2008
  
      
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