Burning Rate Emulator (BRE)

Science Objectives

The Burning Rate Emulator (BRE) investigation is conducted in the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) on the International Space Station (ISS), as part of the Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) project. In this fire safety study, the flammability of solid and liquid materials is simulated by burning gaseous fuels under key conditions corresponding to the solid and liquid materials. This technique has been demonstrated for a wide variety of materials in normal-gravity and could provide an efficient way to screen and select fire-resistant materials for use in spacecraft, if the technique is similarly effective in microgravity.

Experiment Description

The Burning Rate Emulator (BRE) experiment is focused on spacecraft fire prevention. More specifically, BRE’s objective is to improve fundamental understanding of materials flammability, such as extinction behavior and the conditions needed for sustained combustion, and to assess the relevance of existing flammability test methods for low and partial-gravity environments. A flat porous burner fed with gaseous fuel simulates the burning of solid and liquid fuels. Measurements are made of the thermal feedback (i.e., to the burner) upon which the vaporization of liquid or solid (i.e., condensed-phase) fuels is dependent. A small number of gaseous fuels (including mixtures with inert gases) are used to simulate the burning of fuels such as paper, plastic, and alcohol by matching the heats of combustion and gasification, the re-radiation heat flux, and the smoke point.

Space Applications

ACME’s BRE investigation is focused on spacecraft fire prevention. BRE’s objective is to improve fundamental understanding of materials flammability, such as extinction behavior and the conditions needed for sustained combustion, and to assess the relevance of existing flammability test methods for low and partial-gravity environments.

Earth Applications

While BRE is focused on improving the process to select fire-resistant spacecraft materials, the research results could yield new understanding that also enables improved fire safety on Earth.

Related Links

Space Station Research Explorer

Investigations