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Simulating Fire Whirls.

pdf icon Simulating Fire Whirls. (1693 K)
Battaglia, F.; McGrattan, K. B.; Rehm, R. G.; Baum, H. R.

NISTIR 6341; 22 p. July 1999.

Combustion Theory and Modelling, Vol. 4, 123-138, 2000.

Available from:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
Telephone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
Fax: 703-605-6900.
Order number: PB99-158339


flame whirls; fire plumes; circulation; combustion models; buoyancy


A numerical investigation of swirling fire plumes is pursued to understand how swirl alters the plume dynamics and combustion. One example is the 'fire whirl' which is known to arise naturally during forest fires. This buoyancy-driven fire plume entrains ambient fluid as heated gases rise. Vorticity associated with a mechanism such as wind shear can be concentrated by the fire, creating a vortex core along the axis of the plume. The result is a whirling fire. The current approach considers the relationship between buoyancy and swirl using a configuration based on fixing the heat release rate of the fire and imposing circulation. Large eddy methodologies are used in the numerical analyses. Results indicate that the structure of the fire plume is significantly altered when angular momentum is imparted to the ambient fluid. The vertical acceleration induced by buoyancy generates strain fields which stretch out the flames as they wrap around the nominal plume centerline. The whirling fire constricts radially and stretches the plume vertically.