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Combustion Art Is Both Beautiful and Dangerous

The winners of the 2011 Combustion Art Competition Awards are beautiful reminders that while fire can be tremendously destructive, it can also be fun and beautiful. Held at a recent meeting of the Combustion Institute, the awards, which are now in their eighth year, brought together pyrotechnic scientists to show off their art.

The above image was created by Bogdan Pavlov and Li Qiao of Purdue University. It combines several images of different flame types in a portrait they call  Dr Combustion. Taking second place in the competition, Dr Combustion’s nose, beard and hair were created by adding mixtures of nanoparticles to a flame. The eyes and mouth are made by a counterflow diffusion flame, and his hat was made using methane-air diffusion flame.

This Flaming Star combines three images taken by aerospace engineer Sandra Olson of NASA’s Glenn Reserach Center as part of her research of spacecraft fire safety. Taking first place, Olson’s star features blue areas created by visible light being released from a chemical reaction (chemiluminescence) and white, yellow and orange areas that were created as soot burns in the flame.

Taking third place was Nelson Akafuah and Kozo Saito of the University of Kentucky with a spiral of fire that they created by igniting the petrochemical benzene, then mirroring and rotating the image to produce the curved shape.

Rounding out the winners, tying for third place is a composite image created by Michael Gollner and Xinyan Huang of the University of California, San Diego. While researching critical inclinations for maximum flame spread rates, burning rates and heat fluxes, Gollner and Huang created the Ceiling Fire image from a blue flame that was flattened to the substrate. The researchers found that as inclination increased the flame’s behaviour became more turbulent.

(via New Scientist)

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