FLAME ON 🔥
Humans have been playing with fire since the beginning of time – but fire takes a different form in microgravity. For one, in reduced gravity the flame looks a lot different from those seen here on Earth. The familiar shape we know is due to the way hot gasses from the flame rise while gravity pulls cooler denser air to the bottom of the flame. In microgravity, this flow doesn’t occur, creating spherical shaped flames
This image displays a snapshot of a flame in microgravity. The yellow spots are soot clusters that glow yellow when hot – these grow larger in microgravity than on Earth because soot remains within the flame longer. The results of these experiments could enable the design of flames that are more-sooty or soot-free, depending on the need of a specific application – such as enhancing radiant heat or reducing pollutant production.
This image is one of many flames ignited as part of the Flame Design investigation within the Combustion Integrated Rack, which was designed to safely conduct combustion experiments on the International Space Station (@ISS) without risk to the spacecraft or its crew. With a large portion of electricity in the U.S. generated by combustion, learning to make cleaner or more efficient flames can have impact on many areas of our lives.