Combustion Sciences | Directorate of Scientific Missions

Spacecraft Fire Safety | Droplets | Carbonated – premixed and non-premixed | Solid fuels | Supercritical reactive fluids

In the United States, combustion processes contribute about 85% of the energy supplied and are an integral part of many industrial manufacturing processes. Burning produces greenhouse gases and soot, which contribute to global warming and cause significant health problems. The Combustion Science Program conducts idealized experiments on the International Space Station where the elimination of gravity allows researchers to study the details of combustion processes that cannot be easily studied on the ground. The Space Station environment also provides an important test bed for studying spacecraft fire hazards.

Learn about combustion science research at the Glenn Research Center


Check out recent publications from participating NASA scientists, principal investigators, and contributors from universities and laboratories around the world:

Farouk T, Won S, Dryer F. “Combustion of submillimeter-sized multicomponent jet fuel surrogate droplets: physicochemical preferential vaporization effects.” Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. In press, corrected proof.

Xu Y, Farouk Tl, Hicks MC, Avedisian CT. “Effects of initial diameter on the combustion of unsupported equi-volume n-heptane/iso-octane mixture droplets: experimental observations and detailed numerical modeling.” Combustion and Flame. October 2020;220:82

Zhou M, Yehia OR, Reuter CB, Burger CM, Murakami Y, Zhao H, Ju Y. “Kinetic effects of NO addition on cold and hot n-dodecane diffusion flames.” Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. 2021;38(2):2351-60.

Ju Y. “Understanding cold flames and hot flames.” Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. 2021;38(1):83-119.

Murakami Y, Reuter CB, Yehia OR, Ju Y. “Self-ignition assisted unpremixed cold flame studies.” Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. 2021;38(2):2333-40., January 2021

Zhou M, Yehia OR, Xu W, Reuter CB, Wang Z, Yan C, Jiang B, Ju Y. “The Radical Index and the Effect of Oxygen Concentration on Unpremixed Cold Flame Extinction of large n-alkanes.” Combustion and Flame. Sep 2021;231:111471. Available online May 5

Ju Y. (Yiguang Ju) “Plenary Lecturer, 38th International Symposium on Combustion, Adelaide, Australia, January 24-29, 2021. (Online)” January 2021

Ju Y. (Yiguang Ju) “2021 AIM Thruster and Combustion Awards, June 2021.” June-2021

Souza OT. “Effects of Inert Gases and Flow Velocities on the Structure and Stability of Coflow Diffusion Flames.” Master’s thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, May 2021. , May-2021

P. Dehghani, JL De Ris, JG Quintiere, Emulations of combustion of solids and liquids in microgravity, Proc. Combustion. Inst. (accepted)

Minhyeng Kim, Kendyl A. Waddell, Peter B. Sunderland, Vedha Nayagam, Dennis P. Stocker, Daniel L. Dietrich, Yiguang Ju, Forman A. Williams, Phillip Irace and Richard L. Axelbaum, The First Observations of Spherical Gas-Flames powered cold diffusion, Proc. Combustion. Inst. (accepted)

Richard R. Dobbins, Jesse Tinajero, Joseph Squeo, Xinyu Zhao, Robert J. Hall, Meredith B. Colket, Marshall B. Long and Mitchell D. Smooke (2022) “A Combined Experimental and Computational Study of Soot Formation Under Normal and Microgravity Conditions”, Combustion Science and Technology. (published)

D. Escofet-Martin, Y.-C. Chien, D. Dunn-Rankin, “PLIF and chemiluminescence in a small laminar flow methane-air diffusion flame at elevated pressures”, Combustion and Flame (2022): 112067. (in press)

PH Irace, A. Gopan, R.L. Axelbaum, An investigation of thermal radiation from laminar diffusion flames in a tri-coflow burner with central oxygen, Combust. Flame 242 (2022) 112158. (published)

PH Irace, K. Waddell, D. Constales, PB Sunderland, RL Axelbaum, Critical temperature and mass flux of reagents for the radiative extinction of spherical diffusion flames in ethylene microgravity at 1 bar, Proc. Combustion. Inst. (2022). (accepted)

PH Irace, K Waddell, D. Constales, G. Yablonsky, M. Kim, PB Sunderland, RL Axelbaum, On the existence of spherical diffusion flames in steady-state gaseous microgravity in the presence of heat loss by radiation, Proc. Combustion. Inst. (2022). (accepted)

C. Li, J. T’ien, M. Johnston, S. Olson, and P. Ferkul, “Ignition of Bulk PMMA Samples Using a Heated Wire” submitted (under review) to Fire Safety Journal ​

“Dynamic response and induced quenching of the solid-sphere diffusion flame in the transition from normal to zero gravity: effect of sample subsurface preheating”, Michael Johnston, James T’ien, Sheng-Yen Hsu, Ching-Wei Wu, Sandra Olson and Paul Ferkul, under review.​

Bhattacharjee, S., Delichatsios, M., Competition Between Pyrolysis Kinetics and Surface Radiation in Opposite-Flow Flame Propagation in a Microgravity Environment, ICES 2022

C. Liveretou, C. Scudiere, M. Thomsen, C. Fernandez-Pello, M. Gollner, S. Olson, P. Ferkul, Downward Flame Spread Rate Over PMMA Cylinders Under External Radiant Heating and Subatmospheric Pressure, ICES 2022

M. Thomsen, L. Carmignani, A. Rodriguez, C. Scudiere, C. Liveretou, C. Fernandez-Pello, M. Gollner, S. Olson, P. Ferkul, Downward Flame Spread Rate over PMMA Rods under External Radiant Heating, ICES 2022

S. Hossain, I. Wichman, F. Miller, and S. Olson, “Surface Regression in Opposed Flow Flame Spread: Transitions, Correlations and Partition Factors,” International Combustion Symposium 2022

M Mikami, K Matsumoto, Y Chikami, M Kikuchi and D Dietrich (2022) “Appearance of cold flame in propagated flame on fuel droplets in microgravity”, Proc. Comb. Inst. 39 (accepted)

Kevin A. Perras