Feeds

Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency

Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Video A fire on the International Space Station (ISS) – intentional of course – has provided hints at the kinds of research needed to make engines on Earth cleaner and more fuel efficient. Surprisingly, the experiments turned up flames burning at lower temperatures than thought possible.

In the research, astronauts set fire to large droplets of a heptane-based fuel, in experiments designed to look at how differences in buoyancy affect how droplets burn. In the extremely low buoyancy of the ISS's microgravity environment, gases released by combustion hang around the droplet for longer than they do on Earth.

As a result, what the researchers observed was unexpected: long after someone watching the flame with the naked eye believed a droplet had burned out, sensors showed the heptane was still burning.

The burning of the heptane creates toxic compounds such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde – but instead of being released (as they might be if the same experiment were conducted on Earth), on the ISS these compounds stayed in proximity of the flame and burned off.

As the University's release notes, the researchers, led by mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Forman Williams, “believe that the cool flames are the result of elementary chemical reactions that do not have the time to develop around burning fuel droplets on earth, where they can only exist for a very short period of time.”

Were a cool flame engine to be feasible on Earth, the researchers think they could get engines that emit less soot, less nitric oxide, and less nitrogen dioxide.

NASA likes the idea, and has proposed a Cool Flame Investigation series of experiments for 2015.

The experiments were conducted in the ISS's Multiuser Droplet Combustion Apparatus in the space station's Destiny module. ®

Youtube Video

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.