CLEVELAND – 14 NOV 12
Rufat Kulakhmetov: Next Generation Intern Explores Next Generation ACME Experiment
A scientist’s work is never done. It always seems to be a work in progress as NASA intern Rufat Kulakhmetov found out this summer.
With the guidance of Dr. Fumiaki Takahashi and Dennis Stocker, the pre-junior from the University of Connecticut worked on two microgravity combustion projects for the Combustion and Reacting Systems Branch at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “I worked on the… Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames) [experiment] and the Structure [and] Liftoff in Combustion Experiment (SLICE),” said Kulakhmetov. “ACME (Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments) is a set of five different combustion experiments that are currently being developed for study aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and E-FIELD Flames is one of them. SLICE is a precursor experiment for another ACME experiment.”
Kulakhmetov was one of many students to have interned on the project; however, he was the first intern to use the newly revamped experiment rig. He said, “I tested all the electrical equipment and leak tested the entire gas delivery system. Afterwards I conducted several normal gravity experiments to study the effects of a variable electrical field voltage step change on CH4, [methane] flame response.” While conducting tests, he saw firsthand how electric fields could cause flames to lift or extinguish.
With SLICE, Kulakhmetov studied lifting flames, flames that detach from the burner and rise determining the lifting, blowout and blow off conditions for different fuels in normal gravity. And for the sake of comparison, the fuels used to study these lifting flame conditions were the same that were used in earlier ISS experiments. He explained, “Data from both the ground and flight based experiments will help with refining the future ACME experiment.”
Kulakhmetov also noted that understanding lifted flames could lead to more efficient, cleaner terrestrial combustion and “could greatly benefit the environment.”
Before coming to Glenn, he had limited knowledge of combustion, but after his 10 week hands on internship, he was inspired to continue his combustion research back at school. A scientist’s work is never done; it just evolves.
When reflecting on his time at Glenn, he commented, “The experience this summer at NASA Glenn Research Center not only taught me a lot about combustion, but also gave me valuable research skills…which will certainly benefit me further in the future.”
Glenn also benefited from Kulakhmetov’s passion for combustion research. Dr. Takahashi noted, “I really enjoyed working with Rufat. He is one of the best learners among handful of interns whom I have ever mentored.”