Vortex
Cannons

Peaceful guns shooting smoke rings

In Short

This experiment is a scaled up version of cigarette smoke rings. The Vortex Cannon shoots thick rings of fog which move quickly through the air. These incredibly stable rings stay in the air for up to a minute and travel around 7 metres distance. It’s the perfect setting to start a battle!

Details and Theory

This installation makes visible how fluid dynamics work by nebulising air inside a barrel-canon. If one hits the membrane on the back of the canon, the smoke is accelerated through the hole on the other end.

However, the smoke does not move with the same speed everywhere. Wherever its particles touch the barrel, friction causes them to slow down. Smoke particles that are further away from the edge of the opening are able to move faster, and in the centre the smoke is pushed through and out of the barrel the fastest. Thus, the smoke gathers at the outer edge, assuming the shape of the opening as a rotating ring.

This rotation ensures the ring’s stability and is caused by the faster particles from the centre rotating around the slower ones. The ring remains stable until it hits something or vanishes into the distance as the smoke gets increasingly thinner.