Christian Punckt - Wildfires in the Lab: Simple Experiment and Models for the Exploration

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  Publication Details (including relevant citation   information):

  J. Chem. Edu. 92 (2015) 1330-1337,   COVER ARTICLE


  Wildfires lead to the loss of life and property in many parts of   the world. Understanding their dangers and, more particularly,   the underlying dynamics which lead to fires of catastrophic scale   contributes to better awareness as well as prevention and   firefighting capabilities within the affected areas. In order to   enable a basic understanding of the mechanisms of fire   propagation for high school and college students, we present here   simple model experiments using match sticks that demonstrate the   dangers of spatial coupling between individual reactive   (combustible) elements leading to rapid spreading of the   combustion reaction. Supplemented with easy-to-grasp numerical   simulations, our work illustrates the dynamics of wildfires in   impressive but controllable ways and puts wildfire propagation   into the fascinating framework of excitable active media which   have many equivalents in chemical, ecological, biological or   societal systems.

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