Clothing flammability and skin burn injury in normal and micro-gravity
Cavanagh, Jane M.
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As space exploration has advanced, time spent in space has increased. With the building of the International Space Station and plans for exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, astronauts will be staying in space for longer periods of time. With these increased stays in space comes an increase in fire safety concerns. One area of fire safety interest is flammability. While current flammability test procedures are in place, they are all performed on the ground and may not be representative of flammability in microgravity. In addition to this, limited research into the severity of skin burn injury in a microgravity environment has been performed. An apparatus was designed to be flown on a low gravity parabolic aircraft flight to assess the flammability of cotton and 50% cotton/50% polyester fabrics and the resulting skin burn injury that would occur if these fabrics were to ignite. The apparatus, modelled after a Canadian General Standards Board standard flammability test, was also used on the ground for experiments in 1-g. Variables examined in the tests include gravity level, fabric type, air gap size, oxygen concentration, apparatus orientation, ignition source, and method used to secure the specimen. Flame spread rates, heat fluxes, and skin burn predictions determined from test results were compared. Results from test in 1-g indicated that the orientation of the apparatus had a large effect on flame spread rate, heat flux and predicted skin burn times. Flame spread rates and heat fluxes were highest when the fabric was held in the vertical orientation, which resulted in the lowest predicted times to produce skin burns. Flame spread rates and heat fluxes were considerably lower in microgravity than in 1-g, which resulted in higher predicted times to produce skin burns.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeSimonson, Carey J.; Gabriel, Kamiel S.; Fotouhi, Reza; Bugg, James D.; Baik, Oon-Doo; Torvi, David A.
Copyright DateAugust 2004
flame spread rates
fire safety in space