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Frequently Asked Questions

How do vortex canons work?

Vortex canons are comprised of three main parts, a subwoofer, a collimator, and a baffle. The subwoofer is essentially a speaker which changes the pressure within the collimator, a long hollow tube. Air is consequently pushed through the baffle, a small opening on one end of the collimator. The air emerges as a fast-moving ball, and as it propogates through the surrounding air the ball curls back in on itself to form a vortex ring. A vortex ring has what can be thought of as positive pressure (areas of compression) at the front and negative pressure (areas of rarefaction) in behind. By aiming these vortex rings at the fuel base of a fire, we can use these positive and negative pressures to push and pull the fire plasma away from its fuel base, which extinguishes fires at smaller scales and prevents them from spreading at larger scales.

Where is Project Firefly based?

Project Firefly was incorporated as a company in Canada, but the team works remotely.  Valkyrie is based in Las Vegas and Jesse is from Vancouver but is currently attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Valkyrie is currently working in Los Angeles as a Falcon Engineering Intern at SpaceX and Jesse is interning at GenDrones in Istanbul. Both Valkyrie and Jesse will be taking a gap to focus on building Project Firefly.

Why is firefighting tech important?

Every year, millions of acres are destroyed from extensive wildfires which are increasingly being heightened by climate change, and consequently contributing to it. Hundreds of civilians die from these fires, frontline workers risk their lives, and millions of animals are killed or injured. More and more, we are also seeing the serious long-term health impacts of being exposed to the smoke from these wildfires. Yet, despite the unprecedented harmful impacts of wildfires the firefighting industry is 40 years behind every other industry when it comes to technology and innovation. Our goal is to close this gap by completely transforming the way we approach wildfire containment. By autonomizing frontline firefighting practices, we’re able to lift some of the weight off of service workers’ shoulders so they can fight these wildfires with a much more safe, sustainable, and effective approach.

How does this impact climate change?

Wildfires have a double-whammy effect on our planet. Not only do they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon dioxide (an estimated 1.76B tons annually), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides as by-products of combustion, but they also destroy forests which act as our most important natural carbon sinks. Additionally, our current wildifre containment methods involve dispensing copius amounts of water and harmful chemicals which diminish earth's resources and harm the sensitive ecosystems of forests. Not to mention a lot of our current methods are wildly ineffective - frontline workers are dangerously tasked with creating firelines by hacking away at shrub with chainsaws and bulldozers.  Meanwhile, we have planes that can’t even operate at night, when the fire is lowest and the temperature is coolest. With our technology, we hope to greatly reduce the quantity of water and chemicals needed, improve the safety of frontline service workers, and capitalize on the benefits of autonomous technology to enable more effective and efficient firefighting practices which can better protect our planet.

Where would you like to be in six months?

Project Firefly is continuing to do simulation testing throughout the summer. Testing for wildfire tech is seasonal and therefore, we don’t conduct in-person testing in the warm summer months. Once it gets a bit colder around October, we plan to begin testing in New Mexico. We’re setting up trials to gather specific data on how effective the drones are against medium-scale fires, including metrics such as their resistance to heat, the most effective frequencies to use for generating vortex rings, the most effective altitudes and angles to use, and limitations of our current design. We’d also like to get more research published to validate our technology, and are planning to get support from post-secondary institutions to achieve this. 

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