APR 23, 2018 12:00 PM PDT

The Science behind Flame Jetting

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Eight years ago investigators charged a Michigan man with the burning death of his daughter. But the father, who was allegedly pouring diesel fuel onto a fire in a fire pit when his daughter became engulfed in flames, was later proven innocent.

The real killer? Flame jetting. This previously little-known phenomenon has caught forensic investigators' attention during the last decade. 

When it happens, one can see a container of flammable liquid suddenly jetting flame like a blowtorch with proximity to an ignition source. Multiple accidents involving flame jetting happened in classrooms and households, causing serious injuries and even death.

What causes flame jetting? A study by the Fire Research Laboratory at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) suggested the following three factors that are critical: 1) a fuel container should have some headspace in to allow mixing of air and fuel, 2) inside the container the fuel-air mixture needs to be proportionally right, 3) the container should also have an opening that is wide enough to allow vapor to jet.

Source: ACSReaction via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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