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23-04-2019 | Issue 1/2020

Fire Technology 1/2020

Flame Growth Around a Spherical Solid Fuel in Low Speed Forced Flow in Microgravity

Journal:
Fire Technology > Issue 1/2020
Authors:
Makoto Endo, James S. T’ien, Paul V. Ferkul, Sandra L. Olson, Michael C. Johnston

Abstract

To further our understanding of flammability and quenching limit of thick solid fuels, a microgravity experiment Growth and Extinction Limits is to be conducted aboard the International Space Station with the emphasis to quantify the effect of the flame heat loss to the thermally thick solid interior by directly measuring the sub-surface temperature gradient. A precursor microgravity combustion experiment in the Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) project was used to assess the experimental operation and validate the accompanied numerical model. The present paper reports the development of the flame model over a solid sphere in low-speed pure convective flow (less than 100 cm/s). Computed time sequence result of one of the BASS conditions is presented. The combination of gas phase reaction rate, solid internal temperature and surface heat flux distribution reveals the effect of solid in-depth heat-up on flame growth. The experimental observations agree with the trend predicted by the model. For thick solids, flame quenching limit in low speed flow is not only a function of flow speed but also the degree of solid interior heat-up. Flammability limit can have profound implication to the current spacecraft fire protection protocol that requires turning-off of circulation flow in case of detected fire. The present and the follow-up studies will provide more quantitative estimate of the low velocity-quenching limit with heated samples. For the Polymethylmethacrylate spheres investigated, the limit is lower than 2 cm/s in air.

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