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Extinguishment of Methane Diffusion Flames by Inert Gases in Coflow Air and Oxygen-Enriched Microgravity Environments



Gregory T. Linteris, Fumiaki Takahashi, Vishwanath R. Katta


Extinguishment of laminar coflow diffusion flames in microgravity (μg) have been studied experimentally and computationally. The μg experiments were conducted using a methane cup-burner flame aboard the NASA Reduced-Gravity Aircraft. Transient computations with full methane chemistry and a gray-gas radiation model were performed to reveal the flame structure and extinguishment processes. In μg, as an inert gas (N2, He, or Ar) was added incrementally to the coflowing O2-N2 mixture with the initial oxygen volume fraction (XO2,ox) of 0.21 at 101 kPa or 0.3 at 70.3 kPa, the flame tip opened, and the flame base gradually lifted off the burner parallel to the axis until blowout. The predicted minimum extinguishing concentration (MEC) of each agent in the oxidizing stream was in a reasonable agreement with the measurement. The measured MEC was nearly independent of the mean oxidizer velocity. In μg, the MEC for each diluent was nearly at a critical point of the Coward-Jones flammability-limit curve (the maximum diluent concentration that sustains premixed combustion); whereas in earth gravity, studied previously, the flame prematurely blew off after oscillations at ≈70% of the critical condition. The maximum oxygen volume fractions at extinguishment (converted from the MECs) were nearly the same for XO2,ox = 0.21 and 0.3 despite the different atmospheric pressures. The computation of the lifted flame with a sufficiently long fuel-oxidizer mixing time (≈ 0.2 s) revealed that: (1) a peak reactivity spot (i.e., reaction kernel), formed in the flame base, broadened laterally, thereby supporting a super-lean reaction wing on the oxidizer side and a trailing diffusion flame on the fuel side; (2) the flammable mixture layer was, nevertheless, radially thin (≈ 0.4 mm); and (3) the unburned mixture velocity at the flame base was comparable to the stoichiometric laminar flame speed found in the literature.
Proceedings of the Combustion Institute


fire suppression, cup burner, halon replacement, diffusion flame stabilization, spacecraft fire suppression, Microgravity combustion, Oxygen-enriched air, Reaction kernel


Linteris, G. , Takahashi, F. and Katta, V. (2011), Extinguishment of Methane Diffusion Flames by Inert Gases in Coflow Air and Oxygen-Enriched Microgravity Environments, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created June 1, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017