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Cool Flames in Space to Lead Better
Cool Flames in Space to Lead Better Engines on Earth
 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 29-July-2014  9:55:16 AM
A new space experiment can change the way humans travel. In a series of trials on board the International Space Station (ISS), researchers have discovered a type of cool-burning flames that could lead to cleaner, more efficient engines for cars.

"This technology is not currently available in cars but it could potentially lead to engines that burn fuel at cooler temperatures, emitting fewer pollutants such as soot and nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide while still being efficient," said Forman Williams, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at University of California, San Diego.

A better understanding of the cool flames' chemistry could help improve internal combustion engines in cars, for example by developing homogenous-charge compression ignition.

During the experiments, researchers ignited large droplets of heptane fuel.

At first, it looked like the flames had extinguished themselves, just as they would have on Earth.

"But sensors showed that the heptane was still burning, although the resulting cool flames were invisible to the naked eye," Williams said.

The cool flames occurred in a wide range of environments, including in air similar to the Earth's atmosphere and atmospheres diluted with nitrogen, carbon dioxide and helium.

Researchers believe that the cool flames are the result of elementary chemical reactions that do not have the time to develop around burning fuel droplets on the Earth, where they can only exist for a very short period of time.

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