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Studying Fire In Space (FLEX-2)

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Space Station Live: Studying Fire In Space (FLEX-2)

Public Affairs Officer Lori Meggs at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama talks about a "cool" flames experiment in space. Meggs speaks to Vedha Nayagam, co-investigator for the FLEX-2 combustion experiment.

You never want to hear about a fire in space, but for this experiment, that's exactly what had to happen. The FLEX-2 experiment burned different types of fuel droplets and showed us how flames behave without gravity, so that we may learn better ways to extinguish flames in space -- information that could lead to improved environmentally friendly fuels on Earth.

Read more about FLEX-2... http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/480.html

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Amazing Flame Comes to Life in Space Station Microgravity Combustion Science

From ignition to pulsating-jellyfish then warp-drive ending! Understanding combustion may lead to more efficient engines and spectacular videos.

Science Objectives

The Flame Extinguishment - 2 (FLEX-2) experiment is the second experiment to fly on the ISS which uses small droplets of fuel to study the special spherical characteristics of burning fuel droplets in space. The FLEX-2 experiment studies how quickly fuel burns, the conditions required for soot to form, and how mixtures of fuels evaporate before burning. Understanding these processes could lead to the production of a safer spacecraft as well as increased fuel efficiency for engines using liquid fuel on Earth.

Earth Applications

Watching fuel burn in a perfect sphere provides a unique view of fire that would be impossible to recreate on Earth. Better knowledge of fire’s dynamics could lead to improved fuels for vehicles and aircraft, including efficient, environmentally friendly mixtures of chemicals that burn well together and produce less soot. Soot results from the incomplete burning of a hydrocarbon, and it is harmful to human and environmental health. The FLEX-2 experiment provides a unique view on soot formation that would be impossible under the influence of Earth’s gravity.

Space Applications

The FLEX-2 experiment measures soot buildup, flame heat and the burning rates of various types of fuels and fuel mixtures. Understanding how fuels burn in microgravity could improve the efficiency of fuel mixtures used for interplanetary missions by reducing cost and weight. It could also lead to improved safety measures for manned spacecraft.

Conditions for this test:

Test conducted with 50/50 fuel mixture of iso-octane and heptane in a standard air environment (21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen at 1 atm). Burn with 3-mm droplet experienced flame oscillations, which appear as a hole in the flame shell that repeatedly opens and closes. These oscillations create asymmetries in the flame, resulting in a force imbalance on the droplet.

For more FLEX-2 information, click on the link below:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/480.html

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Space Station Live: Science of Space Combustion

Space Station Live commentator Pat Ryan talks with Dr. Tom Avedisian of Cornell University, a co-investigator of the FLEX-2 experiment, about his research into the special spherical characteristics of burning fuel droplets in space that may lead to more efficient engines. Avedisian explains the science of the combustion event seen in a recent YouTube video (see post above) that calls to mind a pulsating jellyfish.

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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