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The winning photo 2010: Rob Gordon - 'Aircraft engine flame-out' | by Engineering at Cambridge
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The winning photo 2010: Rob Gordon - 'Aircraft engine flame-out'

Inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances could cause the flames in aircraft engines to extinguish, with a subsequent loss of power. In order to design against this unlikely but serious event, aircraft engine designers must research the physics of flame extinction.

The photograph is taken a few tens of milliseconds before the flame extinguishes. It is a composite false-colour image, where the bright outer area is the light from a thin laser sheet, scattered from micrometer sized olive oil particles carried by the fuel-air mixture as it enters the combustor. The inner, darker region is light from the flame itself, struggling to survive as the fast cold air eats away at it. The temperature drops, and this allows the olive oil particles which are normally consumed within a flame to be visible progressively throughout the combustor, denoting flame extinction. The photo is part of a sequence that contains both the stable flame and the blow-off event, taken by two high speed CMOS cameras at 5000 frames per second.


Photo by R. Gordon, Royal Society Newton International Fellow.

Research project funded by EPSRC and Rolls-Royce.

Researchers: J. Dawson, R. Gordon, J. Kariuki, E. Mastorakos.


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Taken on July 5, 2010