Combustion plays a major role in the world’s economy and environment.  Microgravity combustion research offers the potential to produce fundamental knowledge that can be used in developing accurate simulations of complex combustion processes and allowing developers to improve the efficiency of combustion devices, to reduce the production of harmful emissions, and to reduce the incidence of accidental uncontrolled combustion.

The effects of gravitational forces on Earth impede combustion studies more than they impede most other areas of science.  Combustion intrinsically involves the appearance of high-temperature gases whose low density triggers buoyant motion under normal gravity conditions, vastly complicating the execution and interpretation of experiments. The effects of buoyancy (proportional to gravity level) are so ubiquitous that we often do not appreciate the enormous negative impact that they have

Combusion 1g and 0g

on the rational development of combustion science.  Microgravity offers potential for major gains in combustion science understanding in that it offers unique capability to establish the flow environment rather than having it dominated by uncontrollable buoyancy effects, and through this control extend the range of test conditions.

Potential areas of microgravity combustion research include flammability and stability limit phenomena; improved kinetics; flame structure and elementary mechanisms; combustion synthesis and catalysis of materials; fundamental benchmark data; thermophysical properties determination; process transitions, turbulence, and pattern formation; and micro-combustion-based power systems.

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