Fire signatures of spacecraft materials: Gases and particulates

Randall L. Vander Wal, Vladimir Pushkarev, Jane H. Fujiyama-Novak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The primary goal of this research is to create a database of fire signatures for practical spacecraft materials in a new combustion facility and to provide recommendations for the development of improved fire sensors for future space exploration. During a fire, foams and plastics can generate three types of residues: condensables, light gases, and particulates (soots). The residues were characterized by gas chromatography (GC), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These analyses were performed as a function of oxygen occurrence, temperature, and convective flow direction relative to the normal gravitational vector. Among the four polymers studied in this work, forced convective flow direction has a great impact upon particulate yield. Variation of light gases with temperature and different atmospheres turn out to be more convoluted. Particulates can be used as fire signature for most of the materials; nevertheless no single species serves as a reliable indicator for any given material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-904
Number of pages8
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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