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Fire suppression in a sealed system

  1. Mar 19, 2017 #1
    Here is the scenario.

    An astronaut is conducting experiments inside of a laboratory module within a space station when all of a sudden, a fire breaks out. The astronaut escapes from the laboratory module he was currently using and then proceeds to seal it off using an airlock.

    He then deliberately depressurizes the laboratory module of it's oxygen, thereby suppressing the fire inside of it.

    Is this plausible? Oxygen is what causes fire to spread so quickly. If there is no oxygen at all within a space capsule, would that stop the fire completely?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2017 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    As long as no flammable metals were involved, it should. Are you familiar with the Fire Triangle?

    Depending on what was burning, it may not take a full depressurization to put out the fire. It would be nice not to have to waste all that air volume...
     
  4. Mar 19, 2017 #3
    Let's say in this scenario, the fire was causes by faulty electrical components. I am no familiar with the fire triangle but I will look into that.
     
  5. Mar 19, 2017 #4

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    No oxygen, no fire. You'll see that as you read more about the fire triangle.

    Quiz Question (for after your reading) -- Why does a road flare burn under water with no oxygen available? :smile:
     
  6. Mar 19, 2017 #5
    Answer: Because the flare contains the perchlorate salt oxidizer
     
  7. Mar 20, 2017 #6
    A close look at the triangle will be a big help. You also are questioning if it will stop completely? In your scenario you are looking at a space capsule of some sort. Heat can be a challenge to dissipate in space. If a fire were to start and the you removed the oxygen it would cease to burn. If there was no follow up to lower the temperature of the fuel it will automatically reignite when oxygen is restored to the space. You are only part way to a complete extinguishment.
     
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