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ERIC Number: EJ1073046
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Wildfires in the Lab: Simple Experiment and Models for the Exploration of Excitable Dynamics
Punckt, Christian; Bodega, Pablo S.; Kaira, Prabha; Rotermund, Harm H.
Journal of Chemical Education, v92 n8 p1330-1337 Aug 2015
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.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A