Limiting oxygen concentration for extinction of upward spreading flames over inclined thin polyethylene-insulated NiCr electrical wires with opposed-flow under normal- and micro-gravity

Longhua Hu, Yong Lu, Kosuke Yoshioka, Yangshu Zhang, Carlos Fernandez-Pello, Suk Ho Chung, Osamu Fujita

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35 Scopus citations


Materials, such as electrical wire, used in spacecraft must pass stringent fire safety standards. Tests for such standards are typically performed under normal gravity conditions and then extended to applications under microgravity conditions. The experiments reported here used polyethylene (PE)-insulated (thickness of 0.15 mm) Nichrome (NiCr)-core (diameter of 0.5 mm) electrical wires. Limiting oxygen concentrations (LOC) at extinction were measured for upward spreading flame at various forced opposed-flow (downward) speeds (0−25 cm/s) at several inclination angles (0−75°) under normal gravity conditions. The differences from those previously obtained under microgravity conditions were quantified and correlated to provide a reference for the development of fire safety test standards for electrical wires to be used in space exploration. It was found that as the opposed-flow speed increased for a specified inclination angle (except the horizontal case), LOC first increased, then decreased and finally increased again. The first local maximum of this LOC variation corresponded to a critical forced flow speed resulted from the change in flame spread pattern from concurrent to counter-current type. This critical forced flow speed correlated well with the buoyancy-induced flow speed component in the wire's direction when the flame base width along the wire was used as a characteristic length scale. LOC was generally higher under the normal gravity than under the microgravity and the difference between the two decreased as the opposed-flow speed increases, following a reasonably linear trend at relatively higher flow speeds (over 10 cm/s). The decrease in the difference in LOC under normal- and microgravity conditions as the opposed-flow speed increases correlated well with the gravity acceleration component in the wire's direction, providing a measure to extend LOC determined by the tests under normal gravity conditions (at various inclination angles and opposed-flow speeds) to LOC under microgravity conditions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3045-3053
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under Grant No. 51636008, the Excellent Young Scientist Fund of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under grant no. 51422606, Newton Advanced Fellowship (NSFC: 51561130158; RS: NA140102), Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, CAS under Grant No. QYZDB-SSW-JSC029, the Fok Ying-Tong Education Foundation under grant no. 151056, Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities under Grant Nos. WK2320000035, and JSPS Fellowship (P12360) to Longhua Hu, by JAXA to Osamu Fujita as a candidate experiment for the third stage use of JEM/ISS titled “Evaluation of gravity impact on combustion phenomenon of solid material towards higher fire safety”, and by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to Suk Ho Chung.


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