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New Species of Fire Discovered: Fingering Flamelets Form a Dynamic PopulationPoets and artists have long used fire as a metaphor for life. At the NASA Glenn Research Center, recent experiments in a subcritical Rayleigh number flow channel demonstrated that this analogy holds up surprisingly well when tools developed to characterize a biological population are applied to a class of fire that occurs in near-extinction, weakly convective environments (such as microgravity) or in vertically confined spaces (such as our apparatus). Under these conditions, the flame breaks into numerous 'flamelets" that form a Turing-type reaction-diffusion fingering pattern as they spread across the fuel. It is standard practice on U.S. spacecraft for the astronaut crew to turn off the ventilation to help extinguish a fire, both to eliminate the fresh oxygen supply and to reduce the distribution of the smoke. When crew members think that the fire is fully extinguished, they reactivate the ventilation system to clear the smoke. However, some flamelets can survive, and our experiments have demonstrated that flamelets quickly grow into a large fire when ventilation increases.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Olson, Sandra L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Miller, Fletcher J.
Wichman, Indrek S.
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2004
Subject Category
Propellants And Fuels
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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