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Radiative Ignition and Transition to Spread Investigation (RITSI).

pdf icon Radiative Ignition and Transition to Spread Investigation (RITSI). (1865 K)
Kashiwagi, T.; Olson, S. L.


Third United States Microgravity Payload: One Year Report. Proceedings. February 10-11, 1997, Washington, DC, 97-117 pp, 1998.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH


microgravity; flame spread; ignition; smoldering; experiments; char; temperature; lamps


A total of 25 experiments was conducted in the Glovebox Facility on the USMP-3 mission to study the behavior of both flaming and smoldering ignition events, the transition from ignition to flame/smoldering spread, and the flame/smoldering growth pattern in air. Twenty-one of the 25 experiments were flaming experiments and the remainder were smoldering experiments. Ignition was initiated by a heated wire across a thermally thin filter paper in the middle of the sample for the two-dimensional configuration and by a focused beam from a halogen/tungsten lamp at the center of the sample for the three-dimensional configuration. The external air flow velocity was varied from 0 cm/s to 6.5 cm/s. The ignition and subsequent flame spread events were recorded by a video camera, a 35 mm camera, and 6 thermocouples (2 in the gas phase and 4 in the sample). The results indicate that non-piloted radiative ignition of the paper by external thermal radiation tends to occur more easily than in normal gravity. In the two-dimensional configuration, the transition from ignition to downstream flame spread never occurred; only the transition to upstream spread took place. In the three-dimensional configuration, a char growth pattern emerged in the shape of a fan, with the ignited area as the center of the fan and the fan spreading in the upstream direction. The internal angle of the fan increased with an increase in external flow velocity (higher flow velocity gave a more opened fan pattern). At an external flow velocity of 5 cm/s, the flame was horseshoe-shaped and the char pattern became an elongated semicircle toward upstream. It appears that the peak upstream flame spread rate was reached at a higher external velocity than for the two-dimensional flame front. Flame spread much faster along open edges of the sample paper than along the sample face, presumably due to there being larger supply of oxygen and energy feedback at the open edges than at the surface. These results indicate the possible importance of the effect of the flame front shape such as the curvature of the flame front on spread rate and flame strength. A complex, unexpected finger-shaped char growth pattern was observed during the smoldering experiment. Higher external flow velocity increased the number of localized smoldering fronts, of the char fingers they left behind, and frequency of bifurcations from the fingers. At present, it is not clear what caused such a complex char growth pattern.