FPE Seminar Series: Flammability of Materials in Spacecraft Environments
Speaker: Derek Dunn-Rankin, Professor & Chair, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of California Irvine
Title: Flammability of Materials in Spacecraft Environments
This presentation describes experiments that examine interesting and relatively unusual combustion configurations that broaden the typical considerations of maximizing efficiency, minimizing harmful emissions, and reducing the threat of fire destruction. This presentation covers three topics: (1) Hydrocarbon flames have long been known to contain naturally a small quantity of charged species that allow them to act as weak plasmas. Experiments with flames in the microgravity environment of the International Space show how electric fields can affect flames, including changing their shape and direction, their sooting behavior, and their stable burning limits. (2) Methane hydrates are ice-like crystalline solids that encapsulate methane, and under appropriate conditions can burn steadily. As the water evaporates during the hydrate burn, it creates a watery-fuel diffusion flame. (3) Hot air ballooning is an evocative recreational adventure, and at the heart of hot air ballooning is a naturally aspirated propane combustor that must intermittently and reliably deliver megawatts of thermal power into the balloon envelope. The broader significance of each of these examples is explored, and they all demonstrate the rich multi-physics environment that arises when combustion is involved.
Derek Dunn-Rankin is Professor and current Chair in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Dr. Dunn-Rankin’s research is in combustion and energy, droplet and sprays, and applications of laser diagnostic techniques to practical engineering systems. He has been faculty advisor for 30 Ph.D. and 67 M.S. graduates at UCI. He is faculty director for CAMP - the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation - a program designed to increase minority representation in science and technology. He received a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship in 2008 and the Oppenheim Prize of the Institute for the Dynamics of Explosions and Reactive Systems in 2013.