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How Much Water is Actually Needed?

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 Project MIKA started with the question: “How much water MUST reach the core of a high-intensity fire to put it out?"

A thermodynamics model was created and used to determine the quantity of water needed to put out different fire scenarios (with varying intensities and materials) and prevent immediate re-ignition (by suffocation and lowering the average temperature below the pyrolysis level). 


In the fire scenario shown above, a medium/large fire, burning at 2,000°F requires 2.5 gal/yd2 (12 liter/m2) of dropped water to bring the fire below pyrolysis. The 50% of the water reaching the core of the fire is a conservative value - the MIKA system is designed to assure a higher penetration efficiency.

2.5 Gal/Yd2 = 12 Liter/m2

A look at the capabilities of current water bombing technology shows severe shortcomings.  


The difference between what is currently delivered and what is needed is surprisingly high, and this explains why, after years of incremental efforts to improve, catastrophic events are still frequent.

While big airplanes like the DC10 and the B747 can drop tens of tons of water, not enough of it actually reaches the target.  This is the result of several limiting factors of the current technology: 

  • They cannot follow the typically treacherous fire front which translates into low precision.

  • Insufficient water concentration - the planes cannot fly low enough or slow enough and the water is pulverized and vaporized before reaching the core of the fire.

  • They are subject to no-fly situations


A C130 equipped with a MAFFS (modular airborne fire-fighting system) flying at 125 Kts disperses the water or retardant in about 5 seconds and this translates in a streak of over 1000 ft long by 220 ft wide. This is equivalent to 0.16 Gal/yd2   (0.73  l/m2)

Current aerial firefighting technology is more like water spraying than water bombing and has proven incapable of putting out high-intensity wildfires

It is clear that a disruptive solution is required. 

Liquid nitrogen, dry ice, and water ice pellets have all been evaluated and, in the end, water is still the most effective from the thermodynamics p.o.v. (and of course from the operational and economics p.o.v.).  


The thermodynamic model sets simple requirements, but meeting them in context with the operational, economic, and environmental requirements, has resulted in an "outside of the box" solution - Project MIKA. 

MIKA is mission built to effectively extinguish high-intensity fires by delivering the necessary concentration of water wherever it is needed.  Delivery is not contingent on current aviation limitations like aircraft safety, visibility, and maneuverability.

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