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Friday, November 27, 2009

Novel methodology to quantify wildland fuels' response to fire

The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at The University of Edinburgh has developed a methodology for quantifying the flammability of wildland fuels by adapting traditional fire calorimetry methods used to study the reaction to fire of industrial materials (ASTM standard). The methodology and its first application was published in 2007 and it is now being used in other places to improve knowledge of wildfire behaviour.

For this, a specific novel sample holder was designed and built in 2006 for the experiments. The sample holders is a basket made of stainless steel with holes on its walls (sides and bottom), to allow flow to pass through the bed of pine needles (see Figures 1 and 2 bellow). The sample is introduced into one of the two fire calorimeter (cone or FPA) for testing of the fire behaviour. It has been applied to Mediterranean pine needles, boreal moss and boreal peat samples so far.

Figure 1: Sample of live pine needles inside the novel sample holder with permeable walls.
Figure 2: Schema of possible flow of pyrolysis gases around and through the sample. Left) Using an impermeable wall holder in traditional calorimetry test. Right) Using the novel permeable wall sample holder in new tests for porous fuels.

The work, developed originally in 2006 as part of the FIRE PARADOX project (EU-FP7), has led to a PhD thesis and several papers. In chronological order, these are:

- A Calorimetric Study of Wildland Fuels, Proceedings of the 5th International Mediterranean Combustion Symposium, Monastir, Tunisia, 9-13. September 2007.

- A calorimetric study of wildland fuels, Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp. 1381-1389, 2008.

- Transport Effects on Calorimetry of Porous Wildland Fuels, PhD Thesis by CF Schemel, 2008.

- Characterization of live and dead pine needles during combustion, Poster at 9th Symposium of the International Association of Fire Safety Science, Karlsruhe, Sept 2008.

- A study on forest fuel combustion dynamics using the Flaming Propagation Apparatus. European Combustion Meeting, Vienna, Austria, 14-17 April 2009.

- Determination of the main parameters influencing forest fuel combustion dynamics. 6th Mediterranean Combustion Symposium, Ajaccio, 7-11 June, 2009.

- Characterisation of Mediterranean vegetation by oxygen consumption calorimetry for forest fire hazards. 9th Mediterranean Conference on Calorimetry and Thermal Analysis, Marseille, 15-18 June 2009.

- Increased Fire Risk Associated with the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary Global Warming Event, The Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, Portland, Oct 2009

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