Combustion Research on the ISS

Illuminating the Future of Fire Safety: Insights from the ISS

In an unprecedented exploration of fire behavior, research on the International Space Station (ISS) is revolutionizing our understanding of combustion in space and on Earth. This pivotal research is playing a crucial role in ensuring the safety of astronauts, spacecraft, and equipment.

Adapting Fire Safety Measures for Space

Fire safety in space is paramount. The impact of microgravity on flames creates a unique environment for fire prevention and extinguishment. The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), developed and operated by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, provides a secure environment for conducting a variety of combustion experiments, guiding the selection of spacecraft cabin materials, and enhancing our understanding of fire growth in space.

Unveiling the Mysteries of Combustion

Experiments such as the Flame Extinguishment Experiments (FLEX) have made groundbreaking discoveries. Among them is the existence of cool flames that continue to burn under certain conditions after the visible flame is extinguished. These cool flames produce different byproducts compared to typical flames, including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. This understanding could pave the way for more efficient and less polluting combustion processes on Earth.

Broadening Applications and Implications

Other investigations including ACME, BASS, SoFIE GEL, and FLARE are providing insights into fuel efficiency, flammability of materials, and flame spread in microgravity. These studies hold potential applications in improving spacecraft safety, designing better fire suppression systems, and developing more efficient combustion processes for Earth-based applications. The research findings are being disseminated through scientific publications, contributing to the burgeoning body of knowledge on combustion in microgravity and its implications for fire safety and efficiency.