Combustion Integrated Rack
The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), located in the US Laboratory Module (Destiny), enables investigators to perform combustion research to understand the fundamentals of the combustion process, understand fire safety, and methods for suppression of fires in space. The CIR’s main feature is a 100-liter combustion chamber to provide the necessary safety features necessary for the various combustion investigations and is the only rack on ISS dedicated to combustion experimentation. Developed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the CIR was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2008 by the Space Shuttle (STS-126).
The CIR provides up to 90% of the required hardware to perform a majority of future microgravity combustion experiments on board the ISS. The remaining 10% of the hardware (fuel, igniters, etc.) is provided by the specific investigation teams. A significant amount of diagnostic hardware is designed for many of the planned experiments. The CIR accommodates experiments that address critical needs in the areas of spacecraft fire safety (i.e., fire prevention, detection and suppression), fundamental understanding of the combustion process, flame spread, soot production, material selection, power generation, and incineration of solid wastes.
The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) features a 100-liter combustion chamber for performing the combustion experiments, a fluid/oxidizer management assembly to condition gases for the experiments, and easily reconfigurable diagnostics (digital cameras and light sources) to meet a wide range of combustion research requirements. Experiments are conducted in the chamber by remote control from the Telescience Support Center (TSC) or the Principal Investigator's (PI's) home institution.
The CIR hardware is mounted in an International Standard Payload Rack (ISPR), with a Passive Rack Isolation System (PaRIS), that provides the supporting elements for the CIR subsystems and mechanical connections to the US Laboratory Module. The PaRIS enhances the microgravity environment for the CIR experiment by attenuating on-orbit vibration transmitted from the Destiny Module to the CIR. The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) features a 100-liter combustion chamber surrounded by optical and other diagnostic packages including a gas chromatograph
The centerpiece of the CIR structural sub-system is the optics bench. The optics bench supports the combustion chamber and the key interface for the diagnostics packages, gas resource distribution, cooling to the packages, and key control avionics. The optics bench can translate out of the ISPR volume and rotate to allow access to the back of the bench. The combustion chamber provides the containment for the combustion experiments along with eight removable, optical windows for the diagnostics. A set of experiments, such as liquid fuels, utilize an insert into the combustion chamber for performing specific science necessary operations (fuel deployment, ignition, etc.). The environmental subsystem utilizes air and water to remove heat generated by the CIR and payload hardware. The Electrical Power Control Unit (EPCU) is the heart of the electrical subsystem. All power from ISS flows through the EPCU. The EPCU provides power management and control functions, as well as fault protection. Payload hardware has access to 120 VDC (up to 1400 W) and 28 VDC (up to 672 W) of power from the EPCU. The CIR provides payloads with access to the ISS gaseous nitrogen and vacuum systems through the gas interface subsystem. These resources are available to support experiment operations such as the evacuating the combustion chamber and providing nitrogen for establishing the experiments atmospheric conditions. The CIR Command and Data Management Subsystem (CDMS) provides command and data handling for both facility and payload hardware. The main components of the CIR CDMS are the Input Output Processor(main command and control computer), the Image Processing and Storage Unit (interface with digital cameras), and the Fluids Science Avionics Package (additional control and data acquisition capability for the payloads). In addition, the CMDS can support real-time image analysis as well as post-processing data capabilities.
The CIR design allows different experiment packages within the combustion chamber to be removed, replaced or upgraded. Modular diagnostics are mounted on the optics bench and are easily repositioned. Standard diagnostic packages, constructed from modular elements provide key diagnostic capabilities for the CIR. These are a High Bit Depth/Multispectral Imaging Package (HiBMs), Low Light Level Camera Packages, and an Illumination Package.
The CIR and associated ground systems will offer the Principal Investigators the opportunity to participate in the conduct of their experiment on-board the ISS through remote operation and observation. Once a test point has been completed, the PI can assess the results and provide information for changes to the test matrix.
The first insert, or “mini-facility”, that was developed and integrated in the CIR is the Multi-User Droplet Combustion Apparatus (MDCA). The MDCA is designed to accommodate different droplet combustion science experiments. It consists of two major components: a chamber insert assembly and an avionics package. The chamber insert assembly is a framework for mounting the internal components that consist of the droplet dispensing and deployment mechanisms, igniters, fiber, deployment camera, and radiometers. It is mounted on guide rails in the CIR combustion chamber. The MDCA avionics package, located on the backside of the CIR optics bench, provides for the command, control, and data handling of the MDCA insert.
Future investigations with the CIR include the following:
Multi-User Droplet Combustion Apparatus experiments (2014-2016):
MDCA/Cool Flames Experiment – 2016
ACME – 2017-2019
SoFIE – 2019-2012
Read the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Principal Investigator's Guide to the CIR Payload Accommodations document for more information or the public relations brochure Combustion Research in the Fluids and Combustion Facility.
Contacts at NASA Glenn Research Center