New Challenges in Fire Safety: From Earth to Space
The controlled use of fire dates back 400,000 years. Fire has played a crucial role in human history, allowing safe consumption of meat, expanding the range of inhabitable land (to colder regions), and providing an energy source. Fire also poses a great threat to life and property (e.g., forest fires). However, the science of fire has not been explored until the past few decades, and our understanding of fire dynamics is far from complete. Furthermore, ever-evolving technologies present new challenges for fire safety every day. In this talk, I will share how research helps address these new fire challenges. I will first present micro- and partial gravity fire research in my lab and how they help improve fire safety in space in on Earth. These projects utilize various experimental platforms, including facilities in my lab at CWRU, Zero Gravity Research Facility (a 5.2 second drop tower) at NASA Glenn Research Center, unmanned orbiting space vehicles, and a facility aboard the International Space Station. In the second part of the talk, I will talk about another pressing fire research need: Lithium-Ion battery (LIB) fires. Our lab developed a new test setup and procedure to collect time-resolved data on gas compositions and fire characteristics during and post-thermal runaway of LIBs. The toxicity and fire hazards associated with LIB will be presented and discussed.