Liquid atomizing nozzle

Award Year 

Joseph Wolfe of the Naval Air Warfare Center Air-craft Division ( N AW C A D ) developed the Liquid Atom-izing Nozzle (LAN) as a more environ-mentally safe method of fire s u p p r e s s i o n onboard aircraft. Streams of air and liquid combine within a unique mixing chamber and exit the nozzle to form a high-momentum mist with very small droplets. The smaller droplet size increases the surface area of (more) liquid and the high droplet momentum gives greater fire penetration, both providing superior effectiveness against fires. As a result, smaller amounts of wa-ter can extinguish a fire more quick-ly, making it possible to carry water rather than environmentally harmful chemicals like halon, which is tra-ditionally used in aircraft fire extin-guishment systems. Features of the patented nozzle translate into a light-weight, non-clogging, inexpensive technology that does not require the extremely high operating pressures of standard fire suppression systems. It conserves water and minimizes con-sequential water damage. Patented in 1996, the LAN technology was transferred in 2001 via a partially exclusive license agreement to the aerospace supply company, Interna-tional Aero, Inc., of Burlington, Wash-ington. The resulting commercial product, the Fine Water Mist System, awaits FAA approval for widespread aircraft use. The company, which pays royalties to the Navy, projects multimillion-dollar annual sales and is developing other LAN-based firefighting products for non-aircraft uses. The U.S. Depart-ment of Homeland Security recently selected this NAWCAD invention as one of the top five technologies for first responders, out of more than 700 competing entries. Field-testing by ci-vilian firefighters has shown how much more effective the LAN system is than standard fire equipment. Because it disperses liquids so evenly and effi-ciently, the transferred technology has a long list of other potential applica-tions, such as pharmaceuticals, man-ufacturing, and waste management. International Aero and NAWCAD cur-rently are negotiating a Cooperative Research and Development Agree-ment (CRADA) under which Wolfe would be technical consultant to the company’s new spinoff, Fine Water Mist Systems, LLC, for developing new agricultural and decontamination applications. (less)