Normally, fire whirls are one natural phenomenon you’d want to stay well clear of. When these flaming maelstroms develop in the wild, they are catastrophically dangerous. But scientists are attempting to harness their power in the lab. In a new experiment, engineers at the University of Maryland in College Park ignited a tiny fire whirl and were able to transform it into a new kind of blaze. This “blue whirl” burns nearly soot-free, and may be able to produce energy with low amounts of pollution, or offer a new tool to clean up oil spills.