Wildfires present a complex, daunting and catastrophic challenge in today’s world. Threatening lives and costing billions in economic damages, the problem will continue to get worse as temperatures rise globally. How can we improve wildfire response to prevent the loss of life and assets?

In this project, XPRIZE is collaborating with partners worldwide to design a Wildfires Prize Design that drives scalable innovation that can rapidly detect and extinguish wildfires; a fully integrated autonomous system that detects, responds and suppresses wildfires, before escalation into a large fire event.

To be clear, XPRIZE does not believe that all fires should be extinguished - as we recognize the importance of fires in maintaining biodiversity and thinning fuel load. However, given the increasingly catastrophic consequences of some fires, we feel it is important to develop this capability to have at the disposal of fire managers around the world. The deployment of that tool, like any, should then be subject to careful and rigorous evaluation and regulation.

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Wildfire Detection and Suppression Solutions Testing: What to Test For?

XPRIZEXPRIZE Los Angeles, CaliforniaPosts: 124 admin
At this stage in our Competition Timeline Design (click "show" below to review the Proposed Prize Design), we are considering adding additional rounds of testing before our Finals full-scale field test.

Proposed Prize:
We are interested in focusing a prize specifically on wildfire suppression. In light of the increasing risk to lives and assets, the focus is on suppression of Wildland-Urban Interface fires, before these escalate into large fire events that put communities at risk. Here is an initial description of a proposed prize. In the other topics in the community, you’ll find different categories of feedback we would love to get on this design.

We understand that a prize designed in this way may result in a different approach or paradigm for firefighting, and we invite you to explore—for example, with faster detection and response, can fires be extinguished without traditional containment and control strategies?

The Proposed Prize: We are proposing a prize that works something like the following: Teams are invited to test a fully integrated autonomous system that rapidly detects, responds and suppresses wildfires. There will be a competition testing area of X by X acres (NOTE: we are proposing testing in an outdoor environment). At the beginning of the test, competition officials will ignite a fire somewhere within the testing grid. Once Y threshold of spread, temperature, flame height, or another variable is crossed, the competing team will have Z minutes to detect and completely extinguish the fire. The overall cost of the teams’ system must be no more than C dollars. Solutions must not pose an risk to the environment and/or lives.

For example, we would potentially subject the technology in a wind tunnel to judge how well it withstands high winds and whether it could effectively deliver a suppressant in those conditions.

The purpose for this round of testing would be to ensure that any solution that makes it to the finals testing has a chance at winning the Grand Prize. However, we want to be very careful to not place constraints on the solution; this testing would have to adapt to whatever the technology is.

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What are some capabilities we should test for?

Comments

  • DavidPoli DavidPoli Posts: 27 XPRIZE
    Another potential detail we've been considering is splitting up the lab testing phase into indoor and outdoor (controlled environment) tests in order to get a comprehensive look at the technologies' capabilities prior to the finals testing. What sort of tests might be appropriate for in the lab or for in a controlled outdoor environment?
  • akbakb Posts: 122 ✭✭✭
    The wind tunnel tests serve a useful purpose.

    Other tests include the ability of a device to access the area of the fire. Challenges might include crossing a river, climbing steep incline, going through dense vegetation and forests with no paths, crossing muddy land, etc.

    Also, what should a device do when it encounters (private) land protected by gates, fences and walls? Two aspects to consider here: permission and physical action.

    Many of these challenges might favour an airborne technology; but airborne technology could be challenged by bad weather, and (perhaps) a limited capacity for carrying extinguishing material (e.g. water).

    This makes me wonder if more than one winning category might make sense: depending on a fire's location and weather conditions either a land based or air based technology might be deployed. It might be nice to have both options available. The two might even work together.
  • akbakb Posts: 122 ✭✭✭
    challenge-fire.png

    Hopefully, the above image that I've created illustrates some of the real-world challenges that might be encountered when trying to access a wild fire. Each device's performance may be different depending on the scenario (location and weather).

    The Fire Challenge page lists some of the challenges devices might face in the real world. It assumes a device starts in the lower left corner and has to tackle a fire in the upper right corner.
  • andracretuandracretu Communication Consultant and Sustainability Expert Posts: 5
    Regarding Wildfires
    A few capabilities to test:
    ~for the planes, water tank capacity
    I was thinking to a solution for Wildfires, when they happened in Greece, Amazon, Australia
    In all the cases, they happened near the water sources. Actually this was the spark of my wondering. How to extinguish them fast and efficient?
    ~+ to test the solution that ensure the real time continuity of the resources: water and other materials that could be useful for extinguishing the wildfires
    ~what was in my mind, was a network of super planes and a super technology that ensure the connection to the network and the specific functionality within the network, to ensure efficiently the wildfires extinguishing actions
  • AlmogAlmog CEO and Co-founder IsraelPosts: 19
    I totally agree with the @akb's real world diagram (assuming the wind direction is towards the bottom-left corner of the diagram). I would add some numbers and that the airborne device should tackle with the following CRITICAL challenges:
    1. Remote operation site should be at a safe distance of 5-10 km (in the real life the distance should be 20 km and more).
    2. Test field size is 200-300 meter (at the diagram's diagonal).
    3. Night operation - MUST HAVE.
    4. Natural or imposed (industrial blowers) wind intensity of 20 knots.
    5. Zero visibility caused by smoke goes without saying.
    6. The river or fire break is 10 meter in width.
    7. The marsh area is 10 meter in width
    8. The fire is fully contained along the river or firebreak line and along the brick wall (private land) - Success/Fail criteria.

    My desk research shows that total of 280,000 litre (70,000 litres of (CLEAN) water per hour) for 4 hours persistently could make the job done.

    Have I missed something?
  • akbakb Posts: 122 ✭✭✭
    Thanks @Almog that brings the challenge to life :-)
  • EtiEti Posts: 23 XPRIZE
    Hi @Almog and @eaguilam - I have a question considering the innovations you've shared here in the community, around the delivery of fire suppression materials, and particularly the 'bomb drop' aspect --

    We were planning to do a preliminary wind tunnel test to measure the delivery of fire suppression materials in high wind conditions. Could your solutions be tested in a wind tunnel and if not, any other suggestions about how we might test this category of solutions?"
  • AlmogAlmog CEO and Co-founder IsraelPosts: 19
    Dear @Eti. To refer to the wind tunnel issue, I think we need to get into some technical details. As aforesaid, the concept of Water Dome System is based on a typical scenario to delivering 15-20 drops of 300 litre, every 3-4 minutes (total of 100,000 litre per hour in average) along a fire front of hundreds meter long, over 10-15 hours. In other words, creating a drizzle of water along a strip hundreds meter long, 30 meter width persistently. The strategy is absorbing the heat along this strip, aiming to reduce the extreme temperature below 450 Celsius Degrees (below ignition temperature). Number of strips depends on the number of sites (houses/hospital/other) which need to be protected. The specification for each droping of 300 litre (1 Glider) is the following:
    1. Accuracy (center of drizzle)- 20 m
    2. Height of start of dispersion - 20-25 m
    3. Droplets size - 2-10 milimetre.
    4. Ground footprint - 30 X 50 square meter
    5. Down momentum - 300kg over 25 m/s (drizzle of 300 kg penetrating extreme environment down within 1 sec). Comment: therefore, the airspeed of the Gliders is 100knots (50 m/s).
    6. Bursts of vertical wind current convections - 26 m/s
    7. Environmental wind currents intensity - 30-50 mph
    @Eti, you were planing to measure the delivery of fire suppression materials in high wind conditions. I've put a deep thought on that, eventough it was not my plan to do that, and can definitely say that the water Dome System could be tested in wind tunnel environment. I assum a sustainable implementation of tunnel, 30-50 m length and 25 m width.
    I could manage to tackle with a closed roof 25m high but I prefer an opened roof. That's to simulate flying gliders towards the fire front. The rational of the numbers comes from the specification above.
  • AlmogAlmog CEO and Co-founder IsraelPosts: 19
    Dear @Eti. To refer to the wind tunnel issue, I think we need to get into some technical details. As aforesaid, the concept of Water Dome System is based on a typical scenario to delivering 15-20 20 drops of 300 litre, every 3-4 minutes (total of 100,000 litre per hour in average) along a fire front of hundreds meter long, over 10-15 hours. In other words, creating a drizzle of water along a strip hundreds meter long, 30 meter in width persistently. The strategy is absorbing the heat along this strip, aiming to reduce the extreme temperature below 450 Celsius Degrees (below ignition temperature). Number of strips depends on the number of sites (houses/hospital/other) which need to be protected. The specification for each droping of 300 litre (1 Glider) is the following:
    1. Accuracy (center of drizzle)- 20 m
    2. Height of start of dispersion - 20-25 m
    3. Droplets size - 2-10 milimetre.
    4. Ground footprint - 30 X 50 square meter
    5. Down momentum - 300kg over 25 m/s (drizzle of 300 kg penetrating extreme environment down within 1 sec). Comment: therefore, the airspeed of the Gliders is 100knots (50 m/s).
    6. Bursts of vertical wind current convections - 26 m/s
    7. Environmental wind currents intensity - 30-50 mph

    @Eti, you were planing to measure the delivery of fire suppression materials in high wind conditions. I've put a deep thought on that, eventough it was not my plan to do that, and can definitely say that the water Dome System could be tested in wind tunnel environment. I assum a sustainable implementation of tunnel, 30-50 m length and 25 m width.

    I could manage to tackle with a closed roof 25m high but I prefer an opened roof. That's to simulate flying gliders towards the fire front. The rational of the numbers comes from the specification above.
  • EtiEti Posts: 23 XPRIZE
    Dear @Almog, I'm glad we've asked you - this is very helpful. I'll take this information to survey the options. Regarding the rationale for testing in high wind the delivery of suppression materials, this is informed by the analysis of challenges in recent mega fires. Many thanks for your input!
  • eaguilameaguilam Mechanical Engineer. Posts: 5
    In relation to your question about wind tunnel tests of the device of my invention for the Control & Extinction of wildfires, let me first explain briefly what it is and the state of development it is in.

    What are the High Pressure Water-CO2 Cluster Bombs (CB)?
    It basically consists of a 1 liter container of a biodegradable polymer filled with water and CO2 under pressure (500 psi). See Data Sheet N ° 1:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s-W5Ja6qN9BistAtPTmfq0jwL51A0vuD/view?usp=sharing
    When CBs are dropped on a fire they reach the base of the fire where the water is heated. When the water is heated, it reduces its capacity to dissolve CO2, which causes it to release and increase its pressure (it can reach 1800 psi at 60 ° C). When the walls of the container melt, it explodes (abrupt expansion of CO2 at gas state), displacing the air, which partially extinguishes the fire. In addition, water disperses which, in contact with gases at 400 ° C / 500 ° C, becomes superheated steam; 1 liter of water to the state of superheated steam occupies a volume of 1.77 m3 = 1777 liters which also contributes to displacing the air. Both effects will break the continuity of the fire, creating "no fire" zones. Immediately the one that now does reach the base of the fire, must be sprayed with water, extinguishing it. In the traditional system of throwing water "over" the fire only 23% fulfills its objective the rest evaporates.

    Development status of the invention.
    The invention has been accepted for processing at the Chilean Patent Office (INAPI), with No. 201803344, “Device for extinguishing forest fires, through the use of water and CO2 under pressure”.
    Specifically, at this time I am developing a series of innovations to allow my invention to be put into practice.
    The first thing is to test a prototype, to demonstrates that the device works and also allows measuring its extinction capacity. See Data Sheet N ° 6:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kRxknscQOmjQI6uPnxndWKSbnoLsOaWp/view?usp=sharing
    Once the prototype tests have been completed in the manner indicated, the prototype will be tested in the field. This test will consist of launching the CB from a helicopter at the head of the wildfire, followed immediately by spraying with water by another helicopter. This sequence will be repeated according to the strategy shown in Data Sheet N ° 2:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZqH4LmWjj74tLSD4ZraVwbL7tX15YtXS/view?usp=sharing
    The CBs fight the fire removing two factors out of the four that allow fire (fuel – heat - O2(air) - and chemical chain reaction). It displaces the air and breaks the continuity of the fire.
    I wish to emphasize that the extinction of fires by means of explosives is a very old idea and is applied in the fires of oil wells. For obvious reasons it is not applicable to wildfires.
    Water-CO2 Cluster Bombs are absolutely inert at room temperature and only explode when exposed to high temperatures as described above.
    I can do the prototype tests when I get the corresponding financing.

    Testing of “Water – CO2 Cluster Bombs" in a wind tunnel.
    As for your question of doing tests in wind tunnels I do not see any inconvenience in which they can be done. Please indicate what information you wish to obtain from these tests.

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