ISS detects new class of fire, may ignite a futuristic engine creation

The presence of 'cool fire', an entirely new class of fire, has been documented on the International Space Station (ISS).

1 minute & 35 seconds read time

Researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have documented the presence of a new class of fire known as "cool flames".

ISS detects new class of fire, may ignite a futuristic engine creation 01

Peter Sunderland, a Professor of Fire Protection Engineering and Keystone Professor at the University of Maryland, said that this discovery could transform what we know fire can be and increase the possibilities of what it can do. Sunderland continued and said that the current goal of his research is to understand these "spherical cool diffusion flames" and eventually model how they work, which can lead to designing "a new class of clean combustion engine."

The new class of fire is known as "cool flames" due to how extremely low the temperature is and how hard the blue hue of the flame is to see. In 2012 "cool flames" were first discovered on the ISS, but only for a brief moment before all fuel was exhausted. This event sparked interest in "cool flames" due to how very little was known about them. To push the humans' envelope of understanding of fire even further, a team of researchers partnered with astronauts aboard the ISS to test different gas fuels.

"This discovery transforms our understanding of what fire can be and what it can do. The goal of our research is to understand the particular processes ongoing in spherical cool diffusion flames. If we can understand and model how they work, then we might be able to harness cool flames to design a new class of clean combustion engine." said Sunderland.

The researchers and the astronauts successfully generated controlled "cool flames" for at least two minutes.

"Little is known about combustion chemistry at these temperatures. Part of what we're learning is how much we didn't know," said Sunderland.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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