Self-contained firefighting system uses fire itself as an energy source

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Sea-Can: totally automated fire retardant system that can lie dormant on site for years, or be helicopter dropped into the path of a fire(Credit: Eddie Paul)

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Serial inventor and renaissance man Eddie Paul is back with another interesting idea. In between resurrecting historic automotive brands, building mechanical sharks and making stunt cars for dozens of movies you've probably seen (the names Grease or Fast and the Furious ring a bell?), he's now turning his hand to firefighting.

The Sea-Can is a self-contained fire fighting unit that can be dropped in the path of a fire, or left on site near premises that are at risk of fire. Taking the form of a shipping container, it can quickly and easily be moved by truck, sea or helicopter to the point where it's needed.

It sits on the ground, dormant, until the ambient temperature of the fire rises up to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the side doors drop down and a set of roof nozzles rise up.

The side doors have a bunch of copper boiler tubing running all across them, and once the water in these tubes reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, it begins to boil.

Powered only by the heat of the fire itself, the boiling water powers one of Eddie's patented CEM (cylindrical energy module) steam pumps, a highly efficient, compact and simple design, that pumps CAFS fire retardant foam out the top nozzles, covering a ground area around 150 feet in diameter.

The foam will keep pumping until supplies are exhausted or the fire's heat dies down below the boiling threshold of the water in those copper tubes.

The system can sit in place for years at a time without needing any maintenance. It needs no external fuel, running off the heat of the fire itself, and opening up and working of its own volition without needing any human intervention – so nobody needs to put themselves in harm's way to activate it.

It's a fascinating idea, and Eddie's in discussions with several different fire fighting agencies in North America to get the Sea-Can up and running, controlling fires, saving properties and potentially lives.

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