Science Café Cleveland presents


"Combustion: from candle, rocket to wildfire"



SEPTEMBER 12, 2011






James S. T'ien, PhD

(Leonard Case Jr. Professor of Engineering, CWRU)



Dr. Fumiaki Takahashi

(Research Professor, CWRU)




Combustion is exothermic self-sustained chemical reactions. It normally involves a fuel and an oxidizer. From ancient time to the present, combustion has been utilized to provide heating and energy conversion to work (furnace, engine and rocket). Combustion can also emit pollutants and be a fire hazard (structure and wild fires). The mechanisms of the combustion processes are very complex. They involve thermodynamics, heat/mass transfer and chemical kinetics. Despite the complexity, a fundamental understanding of the scientific details can lead to improved engine efficiency, cleaner environment and safer houses. In this presentation, we will use several simple examples to illustrate some of the features of the combustion processes (candles flame in different gravities, rockets burning at different pressures) and how to minimize house ignition in wildfires (fire blankets).



James S. T’ien is Leonard Case Jr. Professor of Engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton and joined CWRU in 1970. From 1998-2006, he also served as the Chief Combustion Scientist in the National Center for Space Exploration Research on Fluids and Combustion. His research interest is in combustion, fire research and propulsion. He has contributed to a number of combustion and fire research topics including flame spread over solids, flammability and extinction limits of gases, liquids and solids, radiation/flame interaction, catalytic combustion, microgravity combustion and solid rocket combustion instability. In 2002, he was awarded the Public Service Medal from NASA for his contribution to Spacecraft fire research and mentoring of younger scientists. Dr. T’ien has served as a member of the Committee to Identify Innovative Research Needs to Foster Improved Fire Safety in the United States sponsored by the National Research Council, 2002-2003. He is presently serving as a panel member in the Decadal Survey in Biological and Physical Sciences in Space sponsoring by the National Academy of Sciences.


Dr. Fumiaki Takahashi, Research Professor at Case Western Reserve University, conducts fire science and combustion research at the National Center for Space Exploration Research, NASA Glenn Research Center.  His research interests and experience include fire blankets for structure protection from forest fires and pool fire suppression, microgravity combustion, water mist and halon-replacement agents, flame stabilization, candle flames, spray flames, laser diagnostics, soot formation, and slurry droplet combustion.  During 1989 and 2000, Dr. Takahashi worked as Research Engineer and Associate Professor at University of Dayton Research Institute.  He conducted research at the Air Force Research Laboratory and taught graduate courses on combustion.  Before moving to Ohio, Dr. Takahashi was Professional Research Staff (1981-1988) at Princeton University.  Dr. Takahashi is an AIAA associate fellow (Propellants and Combustion Technical Committee), a Program Committee member for International Symposia on Combustion, and served as a technical advisor for the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 2001 Cup Burner Technical Group.  Dr. Takahashi was awarded UDRI’s Wohlleben/Hochwart Outstanding Professional Research Award, NASA’s Group Achievement Award, Distinguished Alumni Award from Keio University, and AIAA Sections’ Best Paper Awards.  Dr. Takahashi has published 50 refereed papers and 200 presentations/reports.




WHERE: The Market Garden Brewery

(Located at 1947 West 25th Street next to the West Side Market, Cleveland, Ohio)


WHEN: September 12, 2011

Drinks at 6:30 pm, discussion starts around 7:00 pm


WHO: Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN

ideastream, and the Market Garden Brewery




click here to download a pdf of the event flyer