Fire safety in microgravity is extremely important due to the potential threat of fire for astronauts and spacecraft. One of the main effects of reduced gravity on combustion processes is the suppression of buoyancy. When the flow field around a flame is very mild, radiative exchanges between flame, solid fuel, and environment can determine the flame strength and growth. During the recent Burning and Suppression of Solid Fuels (BASS) investigation, several thin flat acrylic samples were burned in opposed-flow configuration with flow velocity varying between 0 cm/s and 42 cm/s, thicknesses from 100 µm to 400 µm, and oxygen concentration between 17% and 22%. Total radiation recorded by a radiometer positioned at a fixed location with a complete view of the spreading flame is presented as a function of different parameters. The radiometer signal is found to vary strongly with flow velocity, all other conditions unchanged. By processing the experiment videos with a MATLAB image processing code, data on flame length, projected flame area, sooty area (represented by the yellow color as opposed to blue), and burning rate (through evaluation of instantaneous flame spread rate) are obtained to explore if the radiation signature can be correlated with sooty or overall flame areas, or the burning rate. A comprehensive numerical model that includes gas and surface radiation, including radiation feedback from the gas to the solid, but not soot, is used to explore the same parametric study of the BASS flames’ total radiation signature. The detailed information obtained from the numerical solutions are used to interpret the radiation measurements in the microgravity experiments, which can be used for testing and refining further modeling efforts.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Wichman I (1992) Theory of opposed-flow flame spread. Prog Energy Combust Sci 18:646–651
Williams F (1977) Mechanisms of fire spread. In: Symposium (international) combustion, vol 16. pp 1281–1294
Bhattacharjee S, Laue M, Carmignani L, Ferkul P, Olson S (2016) Opposed-flow flame spread: a comparison of microgravity and normal gravity experiments to establish the thermal regime. Fire Saf J 79:111–118
Fernandez-Pello A, Hirano T (1983) Controlling mechanisms of flame spread. Combust Sci Technol 32:1–31
Bhattacharjee S, Altenkirch RA (1990) Radiation-controlled, opposed-flow flame spread in a microgravity environment. In: Symposium (international) combustion vol 23. pp 1627–1633
Fernandez-Pello A, Ray S, Glassman I (1981) Flame spread in an opposed forced flow: the effect of ambient oxygen concentration. In: Symposium (international) combustion, vol 18. pp 579–589.
Zhao K, Zhou X, Liu X, Tang W, Gollner M, Peng F, Yang L (2018) Experimental and theoretical study on downward flame spread over uninhibited PMMA slabs under different pressure environments. Appl Therm Eng 136:1–8
Bhattacharjee S, Altenkirch R (1992) A comparison of theoretical and experimental results in flame spread over thin condensed fuels in quiescent, microgravity environment. In: Symposium (international) combustion vol 24. pp 1669–1676
Ramachandra P, Altenkirch R, Bhattacharjee S, Tang L, Sacksteder K, Wolverton M (1995) The behavior of flames spreading over thin solids in microgravity. Combust Flame 100:71–84
Altenkirch RA, Bundy MF, Tang L, Bhattacharjee S, Sacksteder K, Delichatsios MA (1999) Reflight of the solid surface combustion experiment: flame radiation near extinction. In: 5th International microgravity combusting workshop, Cleveland.
West J, Tang L, Altenkirch R, Bhattacharjee S, Sacksteder K, Delichatsios M (1996) Quiescent flame spread over thick fuels in microgravity. In: Symposium (international) combustion vol 26. pp 1335–1343.
Haynes B, Wagner H (1981) Soot formation. Prog Energy Combust Sci 7:229–273
Glassman I (1988) Soot formation in combustion process. In: Symposium (international) combustion, vol 22. pp 295–311
Bhattacharjee S, Simsek A, Miller F, Olson S, Ferkul P (2017) Radiative, thermal, and kinetic regimes of opposed-flow flame spread: a comparison between experiment and theory. Proc Combust Inst 36:2963–2969
Bhattacharjee S, Simsek A, Olson S, Ferkul P (2016) The critical flow velocity for radiative extinction in opposed-flow flame spread in a microgravity environment: a comparison of experimental, computational, and theoretical results. Combust Flame 163:472–477
Carmignani L, Bhattacharjee S, Olson SL, Ferkul PV (2018) Boundary layer effect on opposed-flow flame spread and flame length over thin PMMA in microgravity. Combust Sci Technol 190:534–548.
Urban D, Ferkul P, Olson S, Ruff G, Easton J, T’ien J, Liao Y-T, Li C, Fernandez-Pello C, Torero J, Legros G, Eigenbrod C, Smirnov N, Fujita O, Rouvreau S, Toth B, Jomaas G (2019) Flame spread: effects of microgravity and scale. Combust Flame 199:168–182
Olson S, Ferkul P (2017) Microgravity flammability boundary for PMMA rods in axial stagnation flow: Experimental results and energy balance analyses. Combust Flame 180:217–229
Olson S, Ferkul P, Bhattacharjee S, Miller F, Fernandez-Pello A, Link S, T’ien J, Wichman I (2015) Results from on-board CSA-CP and CDM sensor readings during the burning and suppression of solids – II (BASS-II) experiment in the microgravity science glovebox (MSG). In: 45th ICES, Bellevue, Washington
Bhattacharjee S, Carmignani L, Celniker G, Rhoades B (2017) Measurement of instantaneous flame spread rate over solid fuels using image analysis. Fire Saf J 91:123–129.
Bhattacharjee S, Nagarkar R, Nakamura Y (2014) A correlation for an effective flow velocity for capturing the boundary layer effect in opposed-flow flame spread over thin fuels. Combust Sci Technol 186:975–987
Grosshandler W (1993) A narrow-band model for radiation calculations in a combustion environment. NIST Technical Note 1402
Bhattacharjee S, Paolini C, Miller F, Nagarkar R (2012) Radiation signature in opposed-flow flame spread. Prog Comput Fluid Dyn 12:293–301
This work was funded by the NASA ISS Research Project Office with Dr. David Urban serving as the contract monitor. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Sandra Olson from NASA Glenn Center for the constructive conversations.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Carmignani, L., Dong, K. & Bhattacharjee, S. Radiation from Flames in a Microgravity Environment: Experimental and Numerical Investigations. Fire Technol 56, 33–47 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10694-019-00884-y
- Microgravity flames
- Flame radiation
- BASS experiments