MSU Leads New Research On Fire In Space

EAST LANSING — In space, flames don’t extinguish under the same low-oxygen conditions that would put them out on Earth, setting the stage for dangerous flare-ups.

The finding, from research led by Michigan State University, is the current cover feature in the national publication, American Scientist, the January-February 2016 issue.

The research team was led by Indrek Wichman,  professor in the MSU Department of Mechanical Engineering. The research team also includes:
• Sandra L. Olson, a spacecraft fire safety scientist at NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland,
• Fletcher J. Miller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, and
• Ashwin Hariharan, who received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MSU and is now a thermal systems engineer at Ford Motor Co. in Allen Park.

Wichman said the research described in the article deals with a series of projects on space fires he has engaged with NASA from the mid-1990s to the present.

“Project funding hovers in the $30- (millon to) $50 million range due to NASA’s internal commitment to its subcontractors, its engineering teams, astronauts and its overall space mission,” he said. “The current project includes PI’s from top universities across the USA.”

Learn more about smolder survival and the life cycles of flamelets in space, as well as simulating microgravity conditions on earth, in the American Scientist article, “Fire in Microgravity,” at this link.

American Scientist is a bi-monthly publication about science, engineering and technology. It has been published by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, since 1913.

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