Fire Technology

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 71–89 | Cite as

Opposed Flame Spread over Cylindrical PMMA Under Oxygen-Enriched Microgravity Environment

  • Chuanjia Wu
  • Xinyan Huang
  • Shuangfeng WangEmail author
  • Feng Zhu
  • Yongli Yin


The enriched oxygen ambient may be applied to China’s next generation space station. To understand the fire behaviors under oxygen-enriched microgravity environment, flame-spread experiments on extruded poly(methyl)methacrylate (PMMA) rods with 10-mm diameter were conducted in the SJ-10 Satellite. The opposed flame-spread behaviors were studied at the oxygen-enriched ambient (33.5% and 49.4%) under low flow velocities in the range of 0 to 12 cm/s. After the ignition in the middle of the sample, an opposed flame spread was achieved, rather than the forward flame spread. The flame-spread rate increases with the opposed flow velocity, due to the decreased flame width and the enhanced flame heat flux. Moreover, a blue flame sheet with a frequent burst of bubbles is found throughout the opposed-flow spread process, showing a near extinction behavior. For the oxygen concentration above 25%, normal-gravity experiments suggest that whether PMMA is cast or extruded should have a negligible effect on the opposed flame spread in microgravity. Compared to normal gravity, the microgravity flame spread rate in the oxygen-enriched atmosphere is slower which is the order of 0.1 mm/s, only one-tenth to one-fifth of that in normal gravity at the same nominal opposed flow velocity, and the acceleration of flame spread in microgravity by increasing oxygen concentration is also much smaller. This result suggests that (1) if the environmental gas flow is small, the fire hazard increased by raising oxygen level in microgravity space cabin can be much smaller than that on Earth; and (2) the fire risk of oxygen-enriched microgravity environment might be overestimated when a ground-based test method is employed to evaluate the burning characteristics of solid material.


Spacecraft fire safety Blue flame Cast and extruded PMMA Thermally-thick fuel Extinction 



Funding was provided by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. U1738117), Strategic Pioneer Program on Space Science of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant Nos. XDA04020410, XDA04020202-10).

Supplementary material

10694_2019_896_MOESM1_ESM.avi (13.9 mb)
Video 1-1: SJ-10 Satellite Microgravity experiment on the ignition and flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=33.5% and opposed flow of 12, 9, and 6 cm/s (AVI 14233 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM2_ESM.avi (11.3 mb)
Video 1-2: SJ-10 Satellite Microgravity experiment on the ignition and flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=49.4% and opposed flow of 12, 9, and 6 cm/s (AVI 11568 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM3_ESM.avi (4 mb)
Video 2-1: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=33% and opposed flow of 9 cm/s (AVI 4124 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM4_ESM.avi (1.7 mb)
Video 2-2: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=33% and opposed flow of 6 cm/s (AVI 1783 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM5_ESM.avi (1.4 mb)
Video 2-3: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=33% and opposed flow of 3 cm/s (AVI 1386 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM6_ESM.avi (3.5 mb)
Video 3-1: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=21% and opposed flow of 3 cm/s (AVI 3606 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM7_ESM.avi (3.1 mb)
Video 3-2: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=25% and opposed flow of 3 cm/s (AVI 3155 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM8_ESM.avi (1.8 mb)
Video 3-3: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=33% and opposed flow of 12 cm/s (AVI 1844 kb)
10694_2019_896_MOESM9_ESM.avi (1.1 mb)
Video 3-4: Normal-gravity experiment on flame spread over extruded PMMA rod (10-mm diameter) under X=49% and opposed flow of 3 cm/s (AVI 1090 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuanjia Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xinyan Huang
    • 3
  • Shuangfeng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Feng Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yongli Yin
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Microgravity, Institute of MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Engineering ScienceUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Research Center for Fire EngineeringThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonChina
  4. 4.China Astronaut Research and Training CenterBeijingChina

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