NIST Time|NIST Home|About NIST|Contact NIST

HomeAll Years:AuthorKeywordTitle2005-2010:AuthorKeywordTitle

Experimental Measurements of Upward Flame Spread on a Vertical Wall With External Radiation.

pdf icon Experimental Measurements of Upward Flame Spread on a Vertical Wall With External Radiation. (1172 K)
Brehob, E. G.; Kulkarni, A. K.

Fire Safety Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, 181-200, October 1998.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD


flame spread; walls; flame height; heating; thickness


The overall objective of the project is to gain an understanding of the flame spread phenomenon under simulated surrounding fire conditions. In this phase of the project, emphasis is placed on obtaining experimental data for upward flame spread with applied external radiation on practical wall materials. A second phase (not yet reported) is the development of a numerical flame spread model and the experimental results presented here will be used for comparison with model predictions. Flame height, and in some cases pyrolysis height, were recorded as functions of time for 120 cm x 30 cm samples; and these data were used to quantitatively investigate the effect of external radiation on several materials. Infrared heating panels were used to supply radiant fluxes of up to 15 kW/m2 to the sample. Many wood-based materials do not exhibit flame spread to the top of the sample when ignited without applied external flux. With moderate levels of external radiation (5-10 kW/m2), many of these materials sustained flame spread to the top of the sample. With increasing external radiation levels, flame spread was also more rapid. A comprehensive series of tests was run on particle board to investigate the effect of igniter strength, preheat of the sample, and sample thickness. Igniter strength was not a significant factor and did not cause the flame spread to be sustained; the effect of preheat, even at moderate levels of radiant flux, was important; and sample thickness had a slight effect, with thicker samples burning slower. Total heat feedback to the sample was measured and the maximum values for various samples are reported. Experimental data obtained in this project will be used to aid in the development and validation of a numerical flame spread model.