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30-11-2019 | Issue 1/2020

Fire Technology 1/2020

Opposed-Flow Flame Spread and Extinction in Electric Wires: The Effects of Gravity, External Radiant Heat Flux, and Wire Characteristics on Wire Flammability

Journal:
Fire Technology > Issue 1/2020
Authors:
Yusuke Konno, Yoshinari Kobayashi, Carlos Fernandez-Pello, Nozomu Hashimoto, Shinji Nakaya, Mitsuhiro Tsue, Osamu Fujita
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Abstract

Combustion of electric wires is the most probable cause of fire in human space activities. Therefore, the fire performance of electric wires in microgravity conditions must be thoroughly analyzed. This study investigates the opposed-flow flame spread and its limits in electric wires preheated by external radiation, under both normal gravity and microgravity, to understand their fire performance when exposed to external heat sources in such gravity conditions. The experiments were performed on low-density polyethylene (LDPE)-insulated copper (Cu) wires having an outer diameter of 4 mm and differing in core diameter (2.5 and 0.7 mm, corresponding to insulation thicknesses of 0.75 and 1.65 mm, respectively). Both standard and black LDPE insulations were used to study the effect of radiation absorption on the wire preheating and subsequent flame spread. The comparison of the flame spread limits revealed that the wire with the thicker Cu core was less flammable under both normal gravity and microgravity; in particular, its flammability further decreased in the case of microgravity, in contrast with thinner electric wires (~ 1 mm outer diameter), which exhibited higher flammability in the same gravity condition. These results suggest that different mechanisms, for thicker and thinner wires, determining the critical conditions to sustain flame spread under microgravity. This study provides valuable information about the fire performance of electric wires in space gravity.

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