Transition from opposed flame spread to fuel regression and blow off: Effect of flow, atmosphere, and microgravity

Xinyan Huang, Shmuel Link, Andy Rodriguez, Maria Thomsen, Sandra Olson, Paul Ferkul, Carlos Fernandez-Pello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The spread of flames over the surface of solid combustible material in an opposed flow is different from the mass burning (or fuel regression) in a pool fire. However, the progress of a flame front over a solid fuel includes both flame spread and fuel regression, but the difference between these two processes has not been well clarified. In this work, experiments using cylindrical PMMA samples were conducted in normal gravity and in microgravity. We aim to identify the transition from opposed flame spread to fuel regression under varying conditions, including sample size, opposed flow velocity, pressure, oxygen concentration, external radiation, and gravity level. For a thick rod in normal gravity, as the opposed flow increases to 50-100 cm/s, the flame can no longer spread over the fuel surface but stay in the recirculation zone downstream of the cylinder end surface, like a pool fire flame. The flame spread first transitions to fuel regression at a critical leading-edge regression angle of α 45°, and then, flame blow-off occurs. Under large opposed flow velocity, a stable flat blue flame is formed floating above the rod end surface, because of vortex shedding. In microgravity at a low opposed flow (<10 cm/s), pure fuel regression was not observed. This work aims to clarify the differences between the flame spread and fuel regression in the progress of a flame and provide a better understanding of the blow-off phenomenon on solid fuels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4117-4126
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Blue flame sheet
  • Burning
  • PMMA rod
  • Reduced pressure
  • Regression angle


Dive into the research topics of 'Transition from opposed flame spread to fuel regression and blow off: Effect of flow, atmosphere, and microgravity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this