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Fire in low gravity

  1. Nov 6, 2014 #1
    Hi there, I've seen videos and simulations of fire in zero or microgravity, but I'm trying to get a mental picture of how fire would look / burn in LOW gravity. Say a space station that rotates in order to create a light gravitational hold equivalent to the moon or even Mars...if a fire was ravaging a biodome within that station, what would the fire itself look and move like? I assume it wouldn't behave the same as a burning house on earth would, but since there is SOME gravity, it also won't just be the contained blue fire bubble you see in zero or microgravity. I'm trying to imagine something in between but any thoughts to help me visualize such a scenario would be appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2014 #2


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    I imagine it would soft and rounded but still climbing upward, though gently. Imagine the shape and behavior of the flame of candle, but scale it up. Better yet, ever seen what happens when you let a match burn so it has multiple peaks?

    Picture this, but scaled up.

    I am only guessing, BTW, I know no better than you.

  4. Nov 6, 2014 #3
    Thanks for the thought. Guessing is more than welcome! I'm definitely able to picture it on a smaller scale, like the candles, but I'm having a lot of trouble picturing what a whole house or even village burning in low gravity would look like. Like you said, it would probably be rounded and not billowing quite the way it does here. You see zero gravity fire in movies all the time except it is totally unrealistic...they just make it look like a normal fire but surrounded by little balls of flame drifting around (like water does) and that is, while pretty to see from an effects standpoint, not remotely accurate. Obviously, a low gravity rather than zero gravity environment would be a bit of a cross betwee the two. But since I've only seen single candles or matches in zero gravity, trying to get a mental image of a wildfire in moon or Mars gravity is proving difficult!
  5. Nov 6, 2014 #4
  6. Nov 7, 2014 #5


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    There's a reason for that.

    In low gravity, a dramatically reduced convection system means a dramatically reduced inflow of oxygen. This means that fires just do not burn anywhere near as actively in a low-G environment.

    You simply won't have wildfires.

    Sure, a field of grass would burn, but slowly, and I expect you'd see a very different burn pattern, for example, the centre might be completely burned out. You might get a ring of slow-burn around the perimeter, with just coals in the centre region.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014
  7. Nov 7, 2014 #6


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