Vortex gun blows rings of high-speed electrified gas – could have numerous applications


March 5, 2012

Scientists have developed a vortex gun that delivers electrically-charged rings of gas, and that could have various uses

Scientists have developed a vortex gun that delivers electrically-charged rings of gas, and that could have various uses

While something called a "vortex gun" might sound like a device from science fiction, the fact is that they have been available as novelties for years - if you've ever used a toy gun that shot out a smoke ring, then you've used a vortex gun. Lately, however, scientists from the Ohio-based Battelle R & D group have developed one that could have practical uses for people such as firefighters, exterminators and riot cops.

Vortex guns work by forcing air or another gas at a high velocity, down the inside of a cylinder. Friction along the inside of that cylinder wall slows down a thin layer of that flowing gas, causing it to roll forward on itself. By the time it exits the cylinder, it's formed into a self-contained donut shape, which it is able to maintain as it flies through the air - even when subjected to cross winds.

According to Battelle's data, a big enough version of its gun could deliver an electrically-charged ring vortex initially traveling at 90 mph (145 km/h), that would be able to maintain a speed of at least 60 mph (97 km/h) for a distance of over 50 yards (45.7 meters).

The scientists propose that if ionized air were used in their gun, firefighters could shoot it down a smoke-filled hallway or flight of stairs - the electrical charge would cause the smoke particles to clump together and cling to nearby surfaces, instead of hanging in the air. If it were loaded with a pesticide gas, on the other hand, it could be used to selectively target things such as wasp's nests, without spreading the pesticide wider than necessary. Similarly, in a riot situation, shots of tear gas could be strategically delivered, instead of drifting over the entire crowd.

A patent application for the device (which can be seen in the video below) was recently filed by the research team.

Source: Battelle via Innovation NewsDaily

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Loved my Airzooka, kept blowing out my mom's cigs to stop her from smoking.

Justin Schetrompf

I wonder what the effect of hitting a animal or electrical device with the electrically-charged ring vortex.


This is old news - who hasn't farted in their Airzooka? Biological weapon? Heh....good times.


re; misfit

Everyone with a sense of decency.


@Slowburn, It's just like static, hardly any charge, but enough that it'd stick to the wall or surface and clear the hallway.

Steve Pender

If used at close range it will shoot your eye out!.

Ron Wagner

On the BBC show Bang Goes The Theory a few years ago, they built a vortex gun that used exploding Acetylene. Enough force to knock over a wall of bricks that were a considerable distance away. A clip's on YouTube and worth seeing. Maybe Batelle was inspired by that?

Jamie Nichols

Sounds like a good first step to making a ball lightning on demand facility.

According to some papers, BL is theorised to be a self contained plasma vortex, but stabilised by some sort of electron pair transfer effect similar to that seen in a superconductor.

Think of it as a plasma superconductor, that has to be pretty close.

Andre de Guerin

I believe the Nazis were experimenting with this at the end of the Second World War, and that is where the BBC programme got their idea from.

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