Burning Rate Emulator (BRE)
Material Ignition, Burning, and Extinction in Microgravity
Little is known about the fire hazards of solid and liquid fuels in microgravity. The goal of this research is to establish the burning conditions possible in microgravity for various materials. The application is spacecraft fire safety.
The approach is to use a gas fueled burner to emulate the ignition, burning, and extinction of condensed fuels. This burner is called the Burning Rate Emulator (BRE). The BRE will use mixtures of gaseous fuels and inerts to simulate the fire behavior of a wide spectrum of condensed fuels.
The key properties governing burning of condensed fuels are (1) the heat of gasification, (2) the surface radiation heat flux, and (3) the heat of combustion. The construction of a BRE burner with embedded flame heat flux sensors enables us to emulate a pool fire of the same diameter, reproducing its color, flame character and shape, and heat of gasification for nearly the same surface temperature. A 3-D plot of steady burning will give a flammability map in terms of these properties in both normal gravity and microgravity. In addition, effects of external radiation can be assessed.
Specific objectives for this project are to observe the burning behavior (including ignition and extinction) in long-duration microgravity for methane and ethylene/nitrogen mixtures on porous circular burners of 25, 50 and 75 mm diameter at various pressures and ambient O2 and CO2 concentrations. The results will be related to microgravity behavior of condensed fuels that embrace the scope of real liquid and solid fuels.
Yi Zhang is a M.S. student in FPE at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. For further information about his research, he can be contacted at: