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An enchanting “blue vortex” could change the future of fossil fuels



Fire may be one of humanity’s early inventions, but it still surprises us hundreds of centuries after the first man-made flames.

In 2016, scientists at the University of Maryland accidentally discovered a brand new fire while studying the use of flames to clean oil spills in water. The flame initially begins as a large, intense, yellow flame – then unexpectedly transforms into a small, quiet, spinning blue flame.

They call it “green vortex“for the way it twists and turns. But this whirlwind is even more beautiful – it also burns without soot.

Four years later, a new study confirms that the blue flame is unique and indicates that the flame can be very helpful in pursuing clean fuel consumption.

“This flame has the potential to be used as an ideal energy source with reduced pollution and reduced complexity,”

; the team said. Inverse by email. “Burning liquid hydrocarbon fuels in a clean way is a very difficult process. The blue vortex can burn a wide variety of liquid hydrocarbon fuels without harmful soot, all in configurations. same and simple. “

These findings were announced on Wednesday at Scientific advance.

Find the “flow structure” of the blue tornado – Researchers have used computer models to better understand the origin and structure of this strange blue flame. The aim is to better understand this fire’s scalability and how it could be used in the future to come up with a low-emission method of burning fossil fuels.

While the blue vortices have been described as domesticated and stable, the scientists observed that, at first, they went through a “noisy, chaotic, yellow fire” phase. The chaos team notes that this chaos made previous attempts at covering this flame difficult. That is why, in this case, they decided to simulate it from a safe distance using computer simulation.

In the future, more controlled simulations could help answer fundamental questions like whether these blue swirls can expand and whether they can be created without transcending state. Whether their fire is abnormal or not, the team wrote.

This video compares a digital simulation (center) with two experimental images of a blue vortex.

To accurately reproduce this blue vortex in the digital world, researchers must first simulate the same parameters used in the laboratory, such as the shape of the air and the gas flow. . From there, they can adjust the different inputs to see how different environments will affect the appearance and stability of this blue flame.

While some test and simulation parameters are different – for example, the simulation version includes fuel injection while a test setup includes fuel evaporation – the authors write that the difference is not out of the question. range of physical abilities.

By looking at their simulated blue swirls, the researchers were able to determine that the flame is in fact not a single flame, but rather the tip of three different types of flame:

  • Diffuse flame
  • Rich in mixture
  • Lean fire

The relationship of these flames combined together to form the fourth structure, one fire three, appears as a spinning blue flame. This is the result of a vortex problem in the system.

They also found that this crest-like flame could reach temperatures more than 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Benefits and unknowns – Being able to accurately simulate this blue vortex phenomenon is an important first step towards understanding how (or even if) this can be commercially scaled down, the researchers explain.

Because this fire has soot-free combustion capabilities, it offers an exciting opportunity for scientists to explore the potential for low-emission burning using fossil fuels. Researchers said Inverse that the flame “can be used for the oil industry as a method for overcoming fuel spills and for the energy and engine industry, can benefit from a flexible combustion equipment. fuel with reduced pollution. ”

They note that the blue vortex is also a new, potential way to “harness energy from traditional fossil energy sources in a clean energy way with minimal environmental impact.”

Although burning fossil fuels, whether less emitted or not, is still worse for the environment than sustainable solutions like solar and electricity, a solution like this can provide a ways to improve existing fuel infrastructure while improving greener energy methods.

Abstract: The blue vortex is a small, steady, rotating blue flame that spontaneously developed in recent lab experiments while studying cloudy, cloudy fire vortices. It burns a wide range of different liquid hydrocarbon fuels without producing soot, suggesting a previously unknown potential way to burn less emissions. Here, we use numerical simulation to present the flame structure and flow of the blue vortex. These simulations show that the blue vortex consists of three different flames – a diffuse flame and a premixed rich and lean flame – all meeting in the fourth structure, a triple flame. appears as a blue swirl. The results also show that the emerging flow structure is the result of eddy flow disruption, a fluid instability that occurs in eddy flow. These simulations are a major step forward in understanding how to use this previously unknown form of clean burning.


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