Spacecraft Smoke Detector Characterization with Reference and Smoke Aerosols



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


Performance testing of consumer smoke detectors requires specific facilities and experiments with smoldering and flaming emissions from different fuels. Smoke detectors for use in spacecraft are tested using similar setups with representative fuel materials. To simplify smoke detector testing, this study explored the use of laboratory-generated reference aerosols as transfer standards to evaluate smoke detector performance. Among the three tested reference aerosols, mineral oil particles were reproducibly generated with a Gemini smoke detector tester, dioctyl sebacate (DOS) particles were generated with a wide concentration range and flexible size distributions using an atomizer, while polystyrene latex (PSL) particles were difficult to produce with the high concentrations needed for smoke detector testing. Reference aerosols generated from 1.5%–100% DOS solutions and mineral oil covered the response range of six types of smoke aerosols generated by oxidative pyrolysis of spacecraft-relevant materials. Although no single reference aerosol can be used to simulate the response of different smoke detection technologies to different smoke aerosols within ±10% error, the relationship between reference and smoke aerosols derived from this study can be used to predict smoke detector responses to combustion aerosols.


Xiaoliang Wang, Desert Research Institute, US
Judith Chow, Desert Research Institute, US
John Watson, Desert Research Institute, US
Marit Meyer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center, US
Gary Ruff, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center, US
John Easton, Case Western Reserve University, US
Gordon Berger, Universities Space Research Association, US
Paul Mudgett, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Flight Center, US
ICES509: Fire Safety in Spacecraft and Enclosed Habitats
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.


Smoke, Fire, Smoke detector, Fire safety, Aerosol, Transfer standard, Obscuration, Calibration