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Transition from Forward Smoldering to Flaming in Small Polyurethane Foam SamplesExperimental observations are presented of the effect of the flow velocity and oxygen concentration, and of a thermal radiant flux, on the transition from smoldering to flaming in forward smoldering of small samples of polyurethane foam with a gas/solid interface. The experiments are part of a project studying the transition from smolder to flaming under conditions encountered in spacecraft facilities, i.e., microgravity, low velocity variable oxygen concentration flows. Because the microgravity experiments are planned for the International Space Station, the foam samples had to be limited in size for safety and launch mass reasons. The feasible sample size is too small for smolder to self propagate because of heat losses to the surrounding environment. Thus, the smolder propagation and the transition to flaming had to be assisted by reducing the heat losses to the surroundings and increasing the oxygen concentration. The experiments are conducted with small parallelepiped samples vertically placed in a wind tunnel. Three of the sample lateral-sides are maintained at elevated temperature and the fourth side is exposed to an upward flow and to a radiant flux. It is found that decreasing the flow velocity and increasing its oxygen concentration, and/or increasing the radiant flux enhances the transition to flaming, and reduces the delay time to transition. Limiting external ambient conditions for the transition to flaming are reported for the present experimental set-up. The results show that smolder propagation and the transition to flaming can occur in relatively small fuel samples if the external conditions are appropriate. The results also indicate that transition to flaming occurs in the char left behind by the smolder reaction, and it has the characteristics of a gas-phase ignition induced by the smolder reaction, which acts as the source of both gaseous fuel and heat.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bar-Ilan, A.
Putzeys, O.
Rein, G.
Fernandez-Pello, A. C.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Strategic Research to Enable NASA's Exploration Missions Conference
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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