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Firework Combustion Formula Can Make New Year’s Eve More Spectacular

A spectacular fireworks performance

Any good new year’s countdown has two elements: good cheer and fantastic pyrotechnics.

As the granddaddy of rocketry, fireworks have been wowing audiences for almost two millennia!

But, every year, engineers strive to perfect this art of pyromania. As a result, the blasts become more complex, colorful, vibrant and loud. However, all of these benefits come with a drawback — smoke.

The bigger the boom, the bigger the plume — and audiences are starting to notice. On clear nights, the smoke can linger, obstructing the view of the explosions. On windy days, the fumes can blow over the crowd, affecting the audience’s comfort.

To reduce the production of smoke, engineers can use simulations to model the combustion formula of these playful rockets.

Simulating the Combustion Formula of Fireworks to Reduce the Production of Smoke

Plumes of smoke obstruct a fireworks display.

Developing physical experiments to predict the particle size, distribution, density and formation of pyrotechnic smoke would be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

To optimize the spectacle without increasing smoke production, engineers need to understand the combustion formula and physics behind the smoky byproduct of igniting pyrotechnics — potassium salt particles.

ANSYS Chemkin-Pro simulation software, which is typically used to simulate combustion, is perfect for this role. Engineers often use it to assess the formation of soot in internal combustion engines.

Though soot is made up of hydrocarbons and firework smoke is made up of potassium salt, the general simulation process is similar. Engineers can create a reaction/kinetics model, input that into Chemkin-Pro and use the software’s particle tracking system to predict the smoke particles’ sizes, numbers, density and distribution.

To learn how Professor Mitsuo Koshi, a renowned chemical kineticist and chairman of Japan’s Fireworks Festival Committee, developed this simulation method, which reduced smoke by 90%, read the article: Rewriting the Formula for Fireworks.

Otherwise, have a happy, healthy and spectacular 2020.