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01-066
For Release: August 9, 2001

Barbara L. Kakiris, InDyne, Inc.
Media Relations Office
216/433-2901

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
216/433-8806
Lori.J.Rachul@nasa.gov


Smoldering Combustion Fires Interest at NASA Glenn

Smoldering combustion is a complex, non-flaming form of burning that occurs in the interior of porous, combustible materials, both natural (piles of leaves) and man-made (furniture stuffing and cable insulation). Forty percent of all deaths caused by fire in the U.S. can be attributed to the smoldering of household furniture. The risk of smoldering combustion, which releases toxic byproducts, is magnified in space.

Researchers at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH are currently examining smoldering combustion in hopes of developing safer products for use on Earth and in space, therefore minimizing these statistics. Glenn's next Microgravity Smoldering Combustion (MSC) experiment will take place during the 12-day STS-105 mission of Space Shuttle Discovery, scheduled to launch today, August 9, 2001 at 5:38 p.m. The experiment, which is housed in a Get Away Special (GAS) canister, will test smoldering combustion in different airflow conditions using new imaging technology to record test results. Data gained from this experiment will help researchers understand the complex processes of smoldering combustion and lead to a better theoretical computer model of the mechanisms of smoldering combustion.

A series of MSC experiments has been developed by Glenn scientists to examine smolder processes in an extremely low gravity (microgravity) environment as well as normal gravity. The microgravity setting is especially valuable because it permits scientists to study smoldering combustion mechanisms without the complications introduced by gravity. It also gives them insight into how smoldering combustion behaves in the microgravity of space.

Glenn is NASA's lead Center for all aspects of Microgravity Combustion Science, Fluid Physics and Transport Phenomena and Acceleration Measurement Programs. Its Microgravity Science Division (MSD) conducts and sponsors ground-based scientific and technological studies that lead to space experiments. These efforts contribute new scientific knowledge by studying the effects of low gravity (microgravity) on important chemical and physical processes to improve the quality of life on Earth and to advance the presence of humans in space. The MSD will continue to contribute to future Shuttle and ISS missions in many ways including the design, buildup, testing and integration of experiment hardware packages.

More information on Glenn's microgravity smoldering combustion work is available on the Internet:
                http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/combustion/msc/msc_index.htm

More information on Glenn's MSD is available on the Internet:
                http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov

Additional information about the launch of STS-105 is available on the Internet:
                http://www.shuttlepresskit.com/STS-105/index.htm

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