Reader Questions

Reader Question: Fire as a Fluid?

Reader David L asks:

I understand that fire is a form of energy rather than a fluid in the physical/tangible sense. However, is it possible for fire to exhibit fluid-like behaviours to a certain extent.

In other words, could the dynamic properties of fire be described with pseudo-variables analogical to variables that describe a physical fluid (i.e. viscosity, density, Re, etc.)?

Actually, combustion is a major topic of research among fluid dynamicists. Since the part of fire that we identify as visible flame is a reacting mixture of gas and some solid particles, it moves according to the same equations of motion as any other gas. However, when studying combustion thermodynamical equations and chemical reactions must also be tracked in addition to mass and momentum, which makes modeling fire very difficult. Combustion plays a major role in internal flows like those in car, jet, and rocket engines. (Photo credit: master.blitzy)

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