In a war zone where fighters have to pick through locks and get through metal bars before they run out of life, time is of the essence. This is why the Air Force has decided to team up with Energetic Materials and Products to develop a new lightsaber-like tool that can turn metal looks into molten liquid in just two seconds.
It's called the TEC Torch, but its name alone will not give justice to this new tool. The TEC Torch is a lightweight, cylindrical object that emits a blaze of fire to melt most metals into oblivion, allowing our men and women in uniform to get past barriers as quickly as though they were not there in the first place.
But it's not just ordinary fire the torch emits. The TEC Torch expels a combination of vaporized metal and particulate matter coming from its thermite cartridge at exceedingly high temperatures of more than 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 2,200 degrees Celsius. This is nearly two times the temperature needed to melt steel and more than enough to turn pretty much every other metal into quivering blobs of liquid.
"It works through a combination of chemistry and physics," says Stephanie Johnson, program manager and research chemist at EMPI. "The extremely high heat renders the steel to a molten state, and the force of the propulsion erodes the material very rapidly."
The torch is designed for fast and easy deployment out in the field. Inside the electric handle is housed a cartridge that can deliver results in as little as two seconds. The tool itself is compact, obviously designed for carrying out on missions. It is no heavier than a pound, and the height ranges from 12 to 14 inches, depending on the model, while the diameter is no larger than 1.5 inches. This makes the TEC Torch essentially like a lightsaber spewing out an ultra-hot fire blade.
Although the TEC Torch may be unusable for larger pieces of metal, it can easily pierce molten holes through locks and steel bars up to 0.75-inch-thick, depending on the cartridge loaded into the torch. The Air Force sees this as a most viable replacement to the heavy, bulky traditional torches that weigh 16 pounds that come with oxygen tanks, hoses and ignition systems.
EMPI also says the TEC Torch is not limited to use by the military, as 600 units have already been deployed to local law enforcement officers. Private parties may also find the torch useful in certain cases, such as in underwater exploration and rescue and salvage operations.
Check out the TEC Torch in action below.