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NASA Microgravity Combustion Science ProgramCombustion is a key element of many critical technologies used by contemporary society. For example, electric power production, home heating, surface and air transportation, space propulsion, and materials synthesis all utilize combustion as a source of energy. Yet, although combustion technology is vital to our standard of living, it poses great challenges to maintaining a habitable environment. For example, pollutants, atmospheric change and global warming, unwanted fires and explosions, and the incineration of hazardous wastes are major problem areas which would benefit from improved understanding of combustion. Effects of gravitational forces impede combustion studies more than most other areas of science since combustion involves production of high-temperature gases whose low density results in buoyant motion, vastly complicating the execution and interpretation of experiments. Effects of buoyancy are so ubiquitous that their enormous negative impact on the rational development of combustion science is generally not recognized. Buoyant motion also triggers the onset of turbulence, yielding complicating unsteady effects. Finally, gravity forces cause particles and drops to settle, inhibiting deconvoluted studies of heterogeneous flames important to furnace, incineration and power generation technologies. Thus, effects of buoyancy have seriously limited our capabilities to carry out 'clean' experiments needed for fundamental understanding of flame phenomena. Combustion scientists can use microgravity to simplify the study of many combustion processes, allowing fresh insights into important problems via a deeper understanding of elemental phenomena also found in Earth-based combustion processes and to additionally provide valuable information concerning how fires behave in microgravity and how fire safety on spacecraft can be enhanced.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
King, Merrill K.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Date Acquired
August 17, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1997
Publication Information
Publication: Fourth International Microgravity Combustion Workshop
Subject Category
Materials Processing
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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