Researchers are One Step Closer to a Real Life Lightsaber

November 23, 2015 | Joanne Kennell

TEC Torch
Photo credit: Energetic Materials & Products, Inc.

TEC Torch reaches temperatures as high as 5000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you feel the force?  I can, and you will too after hearing about a new technology developed by the US Air Force and Energetic Materials and Products.  They have collaborated and developed a “lightsaber” of sorts, called TEC Torch, whose blade-shaped flame can pretty much burn through anything you want, including half-inch solid metal in seconds.

TEC Torch was originally developed for the Air Force as a tool for breaching buildings, but its 5000-degree Fahrenheit blade also has potential to be used outside of a military setting, including use by firefighters. and its ability to work underwater.

The nice thing about the device is that it is compact, lightweight, and it fits on a standard utility belt.  The awesome thing about the device is that it looks a lot like the lightsabers wielded by Jedi in the oh-so-popular movie franchise Star Wars.

The science behind this new tool is not quite the technology seen in the movies, which according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, would require very high energy gamma ray beams.  In a short video, Tyson explains how lightsabers could really work and why he thinks they are a terrible idea.  He would much rather shoot someone with a laser gun from a safe distance than have an up-close and personal lightsaber fight.

Even though our current technology is not as advanced as in the movies, this is the closest we have ever been.  The science behind TEC Torch is a reduction-oxidation or “redox” reaction.  Its ammunition cartridge contains thermite — a proprietary mixture of a metal oxide and metal powder within an aluminum shell that when strongly heated erupts in a violent reaction that rapidly releases large amounts of thermal energy.

This intense reaction takes place within a 13 inch long and one and a half inch wide torch that is ignited by an electric current provided by a nine-volt battery.  Each cartridge only lasts a few seconds, but with temperatures that hot, there is plenty of time to get through anything in the way.

This is not a torch that can be purchased at Home Depot or Bass Pro Shops, it will only be used by the military, emergency responders, and law-enforcement officers.

There is still hope that one day lightsabers will be reality, and if Neil deGrasse Tyson says they are possible, it must be true.

Watch this promotional two-minute video to see the TEC Torch in action.

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