Italian Combustion Experiment for Green Air (ICE-GA) - 07.15.14
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Researchers on Earth are studying several types of renewable fuels, but no single fuel type has emerged as the fuel of the future. The Italian Combustion Experiment for Green Air (ICE-GA) studies single droplets of various biofuel mixtures to determine how efficiently they burn. By studying fuel burning in space, researchers can study evaporation and combustion without the influence of gravity.
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Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States
Istituto Motori, National Council of Research, Naples, , Italy
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Italian Space Agency (ASI)
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2013 - March 2014
Previous ISS Missions
- Currently there is a strong effort in the study of renewable fuels, but it is not still clear what will be the fuel of the future. The generation of a database relative to the evaporation and combustion of selected fuels permits the development or the tuning of complex thermo-chemical models. Microgravity reduces the phenomenology to one-dimension, thus allowing the careful observation and determination of the fundamental combustion data. These data represent the base for the utilization and verification of complex models that can help in the decision for the selection of next generation fuels.
- The creation of fundamental combustion database of selected renewable fuels. These data are used to develop combustion models.
- The generation of fundamental combustion data for the development of models able to describe the behavior of new fuels is key to the decision of which class of fuels may be adopted in the future. This will result in gaining time and reducing costs for industrial companies, and also benefits the general public by accelerating the adoption of renewable fuels that are environmentally friendly.
The ICE-GA uses the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) and the associated Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus (MDCA) that is currently in-orbit aboard the ISS. Fuels provided by ASI to NASA will be flown to ISS in MDCA fuel reservoirs. Two reservoirs are anticipated to be required to fulfill the ASI ICE-GA science matrix. An additional diluent gas bottle will be flown to supply sufficient gas pressure and volume within the MDCA chamber. A fiber arm assembly will be flown that can hold a fuel droplet in place such that it does not float out of the field of view. A matched pair of fuel deployment needles may also be required to ensure that the current needles do not contaminate the ASI bio-fuels with previously run fuels.
The microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) helps combustion researchers study the physics of combustion without gravitational effects influencing burning or soot formation. The experiments helps characterize the efficiency of renewable fuels, which could potentially be used in future spacecraft.
Data obtained in the ICE-GA experiments can be used to develop a database of evaporation and combustion statistics for a variety of biofuel mixtures. This data can be used in computer models, which can evaluate biofuel efficiency and accelerate the adoption of the most efficient fuel mixtures.
After initial experiment set-up by the crew, operations are conducted from the ground. Two powered operational configurations are planned, test point acquisitions and data downlink operation. These are expected to occur on separate powered operational days. Typical test point operation will require 1000 watts of power and a video downlink channel for observation of test phenomenon. Digital video data is captured and stored on CIR provided equipment for downlink on separate days. Data downlink days require the ISS HRDL interface with desired allocation of 20 Mbps.
Ground Based Results Publications
Iannone RQ, Morlacchi R, Calabria R, Massoli P. Investigation of unburned carbon particles in fly ash by means of laser light scattering . Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2011; 102: 357-365.
Rauch B, Calabria R, Chiariello F, Le Clercq P, Massoli P, Rachner M. Accurate Analysis of Multicomponent-Fuel Spray Evaporation in Turbulent Flow. Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science. 2012; 52: 935-948.