And finally…US Air Force’s new ‘light saber’ liquifies metal in seconds

A collaborative effort between the U.S. Air Force and defence contractor Energetic Materials and Products has resulted in a new tool that can cut through metal in a matter of seconds.

They’re calling it the TEC Torch, but its it is already being being hailed as the world’s first real-life ‘light saber’ - as wielded by the Jedis of George Lucas’ Star Wars imaginings.

The torch shoots out a mix of vaporised metal and particulate matter at temperatures exceeding 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is twice the temperature required to melt steel, and sufficient to melt just about any other metal, for that matter, either.

The idea for the TEC Torch was born out of need by military personnel for a quick way to bust locks and metal barriers found in modern battle spaces. Obviously a quicker way than the traditional lock or bolt cutter is desirable, given the need for great haste as the bullets are flying.

Generating the heat necessary requires a great deal of fuel though.

As such, the torch is powered by replaceable cartridges that last about two seconds each.

It might be a little inconvenient for larger-scale barriers, but the Air Force and EMPI were looking for portability first.

With the TEC Torch measuring in at about 12 to 14 inches long and 1.5 inches and diameter this primary aim appears to have been achieved. It is also light, with the heaviest models weighing less than a pound even with the cartridge installed.

Despite its initial focus being on the military, EMPI has also sent about 600 units to law enforcement authorities in America.

Outside of these uses, the company sees potential for use in rescue, deep water diving exploration, and salvage operations.

While the current version is already in production, other versions of the torch will soon be ported for uses with miniature robots, and for miniature cutters aimed for use in the oil industry, EMPI says.

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