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Space Station Live: FLEX in Space for Safer Combustion – 05.30.13
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Space Station Live: Interviews (May 27-31, 2013)
Flame Extinguishment Experiment (FLEX) Principal Investigator Mark Hickman, from Glenn Research Center, discusses why scientists study flames in space. One reason is to create a safer environment to live in space and on Earth.
Scientists have been looking at different fuels, atmospheric pressures and suppressants to study combustion in microgravity. Fire in space burns at a lower burn rate, temperature and oxygen concentration. As a result, fires are harder to detect in space due to no bouyancy and less smoke.
Fires burn longer in space than on Earth and it is harder to determine if the fire is actually put out. Therefore, newer fire detectors were better designed to detect soot and more detectors were installed throughout the International Space Station.
Research from FLEX will also benefit fire suppressant technologies on Earth and in space. More Earth-bound benefits include safer furnaces and engines, more-efficient fuel consumption and less greenhouse gases and soot.
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