That’s as a result of deluging a zombie isn’t assured to shortly kill it. Say you’re pumping large portions throughout a peatland, like firefighters did in North Carolina. That doesn’t imply the water is attending to the precise locations because it trickles underground. “It creates a channel, and the fireplace in that channel is suppressed, however then the water does not go wherever else,” Rein says. Different components of the fireplace can fester untouched. And so the zombie lives on.
If firefighters don’t have sufficient water at their disposal, they could attempt compacting the soil with heavy equipment in a bid to chop off the fireplace’s oxygen provide. However that gear is just not all the time out there to a crew. Even then, such a maneuver is harmful work, because it requires driving over an lively hearth. Additionally, these fires will be big, and heavy equipment can solely cowl a lot floor.
So within the lab, Rein and his colleagues experimented with a novel anti-zombie weapon: water combined with a unhazardous, available fire-extinguishing surfactant, also referred to as a wetting agent or suppressant. “It is a little bit bit really like cleaning soap—it simply reduces the floor rigidity of the water and permits the water to penetrate higher right into a porous medium,” says Rein. “Peat is a porous medium.”
Utilizing a small, custom-built “peat reactor,” which was full of the plant materials and lined with ceramic insulators, they might set a zombie hearth and monitor it because it burned. Above the field they located a nozzle to spray both common water or their particular mix on totally different fires. In comparison with the identical quantity of plain water, the water with surfactant minimize the time wanted to extinguish the blaze by 40 p.c. Due to that decreased floor rigidity, as an alternative of making channels, the combination extra uniformly penetrated the soil, so little patches of zombie hearth had nowhere to cover.
It wasn’t that the surfactant had some type of chemical impact on the fireplace—as an illustration, by lowering oxygen ranges. As a substitute it was extra of a thermal impact, “within the sense that the surfactant permits the water to succeed in extra scorching spots and attain them sooner,” says Rein.