Sapphire (Novec 1230): Liquid That's Not Wet

Sapphire, a revolutionary liquid fire retardant chemical, has one big advantage over water for putting out fires - nothing gets wet!

(From ABC's Good Morning America
Be sure to see the whole slideshow.)

As you can see, a running laptop is fully immersed in Sapphire, which I hope you'll appreciate is a fluorinated ketone with a chemical structure of CF3CF2C(O)CF(CF3)2 (for those of you wondering). They pulled it out, let the fluid drain off and out of the laptop - and it kept working. Amazing. The slideshow on the page referenced above shows even more amazing Sapphire tricks.

The laptop did not short out because the fluid is non-conductive (unlike water from a fire hose - note that ultrapure water is not very conductive either). The fact that Sapphire takes 25 times less energy to evaporate caused the heat of the system to "boil" it off quickly (from New Scientist).

According to Fire Safety World, NOVEC 1230 fire protection fluid has zero ozone depletion potential and an atmospheric lifetime of just five days, the lowest for halocarbon alternatives. Its global warming potential is one; lower than any halocarbon agent acceptable for use in occupied spaces.

To find out more, see the Tyco Fire & Security website, and this Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid pdf. Thanks to the horse for finding this story (found you in my referrer logs - ha!) Oh, and links from /..

SF fans of course remember another case of a liquid that is totally dry. In Kurt Vonnegut's 1963 novel Cat's Cradle all of the free water on the surface of the earth is locked into a dry crystalline form - ice-nine.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/15/2004)

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