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MS Theses:

  • Jeremiah Crocker (2008) The effect of sprinkler sprays on fire induced mass flow rates

    Abstract: Performance based methodologies are becoming increasingly common in fire safety due to the inability of prescriptive codes to account for every architectural feature. Fire Sprinkler suppression systems have long been used to provide property protection and enhance life safety. However, very few methodologies exist to account for the impact of sprinkler sprays on fire scenarios. Current methods are extremely complicated and difficult to use as an engineering tool for performance based design. Twenty four full scale fire tests were conducted at Tyco Fire Suppression & Building Products Global Technology Center to determine a simple method for accounting for the impact of a single residential sprinkler on fire induced doorway flows. It was found that a spraying sprinkler reduced the mass flows at the doorway while maintaining two stratified layers away from the sprinkler spray. The mass flow reduction was consistent and could be predicted through the use of a simple buoyancy based equation. The current study suggests that the buoyancy equation can be altered through the use of a constant cooling coefficient (equal to 0.84 for a Tyco LFII (TY2234) sprinkler) based on the test results reported in this paper. This study is a proof of concept and the results suggest the methodology can be applicable to similar situations.

  • Todd Hetrick (2009) Development and validation of a modified clean agent draining model for total flooding fire suppression systems

    Abstract: This project analyzes the validity of theoretical models used to predict the duration (hold time) for which a halon-replacement suppression agent will remain within a protected enclosure. Two current models and one new formulation are investigated; the sharp descending interface model (as applied in NFPA 2001, Annex C), the wide descending interface model (implemented in ISO 14520.1, Annex E), and the thick descending interface model (introduced herein). The thick interface model develops the characteristic thickness as an additional input parameter. Experimental data from 34 full-scale tests designed to characterize the discharge and draining dynamics of seven clean extinguishing agents (CEA) is used to assess model validity. For purposes of model validation the characteristic thickness is regressed from the experimental data although further work may be required to establish the independence of this parameter to other system design and environmental variables. Results show that the wide and sharp interface models' validity is highly sensitive to the threshold of agent concentration decay being modeled; whereas the thick interface prediction method demonstrates increased robustness at any modeled threshold. When the hold time is defined as a 15% decay in agent concentration, experimentally obtained hold time values are roughly 10% shorter than sharp interface predictions, 60% longer than wide interface predictions, and 30% longer than the thick interface model.

  • Scott Rockwell (2009) An investigation into the use of Cross Correlation Velocimetry

    Abstract: This study analyses the applicability of cross correlating the signal between two thermocouples to obtain simultaneous measurement of velocity, integral turbulent length scales, and temperature in fire induced turbulent flows. This sensor is based on the classical Taylor's hypothesis which states that turbulent structures should retain their shape and identity over a small period of time. If sampling rate is fast enough such that the signal from two thermocouples is sampled within this time duration, the turbulent eddy can be used as a tracer to measure flow velocity and fluctuation. Experiments performed in two laboratory scale devices: a heated turbulent jet and a variable diameter natural gas burner show that sampling rate, sampling time, and angular orientation with respect to the bulk flow are the most sensitive parameters in velocity measurements. Flows with Reynolds numbers between 300 (u=0.1m/s) and 6000 (u=2.0 m/s) were tested.

  • Kristopher Overholt (2009) Characterizing the Flammability of Storage Commodities Using an Experimentally Determined B-number
    Abstract: In warehouse storage applications, it is important to classify the burning behavior of commodities and rank them according to material flammability for early fire detection and suppression operations. In this study, the large-scale effects of warehouse fires are decoupled into separate processes of heat and mass transfer. As a first step, two nondimensional parameters are shown to govern the physical phenomena at the large-scale, a mass transfer number, and the soot yield of the fuel which controls the radiation observed in the large-scale. In this study, a methodology is developed to obtain a mass-transfer parameter using mass-loss (burning rate) measurements from bench-scale tests. Two fuels are considered, corrugated cardboard and polystyrene. Corrugated cardboard provides a source of flaming combustion in a warehouse and is usually the first item to ignite and sustain flame spread. Polystyrene is typically used as the most hazardous product in large-scale fire testing. A mixed fuel sample (corrugated cardboard backed by polystyrene) was also tested to assess the feasibility of ranking mixed commodities using the bench-scale test method. The nondimensional mass transfer number was then used to model upward flame propagation on 20-30 foot stacks of Class III commodity consisting of paper cups packed in corrugated cardboard boxes on rack-storage. Good agreement was observed between the model and large-scale experiments during the initial stages of fire growth.

  • Yanxuan Xie (2011) Study of Interaction of Entrained Coal Dust Particles in Lean Methane-Air Premixed Flames

    Abstract:his study investigates the interaction of micron- sized coal particles entrained into lean methane-air premixed flames. In a typical axisymmetric burner, coal particles are made to naturally entrain into a stream of the premixed reactants using an orifice plate setup. Pittsburgh seam coal dust, with three particle sizes in the range of 0 to 25 µm, 53 to 63 µm, and 75 to 90 µm is used. The effects of different coal dust concentrations (10 - 300 g/m3) at three lean equivalence ratios, &; (methane-air) of 0.75, 0.80 and 0.85 on the laminar burning velocity are determined experimentally. The laminar burning velocity of the coal dust-methane-air mixture is determined by taking a shadowgraph of the resulting flame and using the cone-angle method. The results show that the addition of coal dust in methane - air premixed flame reduces the laminar burning velocity at particle size of 53 to 63 µm and 75 to 90 µm. However, burning velocity promotion is observed for 0 to 25 µm particles at ø = 0.80. Two competing effects are assumed involved in the process. The first is burning velocity promotion effect that the released volatile increases the gaseous mixture equivalence ratio and thus the burning velocity. The second is the heat sink effect of the coal particles to reduce the flame temperature and accordingly the burning velocity. A mathematical model is developed based on such assumption and it can successfully predict the change of laminar burning velocity at various dust concentration. Furthermore, the implication of this study to coal mine safety is discussed.

  • Brian Elias (2011) Hazard Assessment of Portable Gasoline Container Flammability

    Abstract: his study considers the flammability hazard associated with the pouring of gasoline from a portable gasoline container (PGC) in an area containing a potential ignition source. In this scenario a flame may propagate into the PGC and cause an explosion if a flammable environment exists along the length of the pour spout and into the PGC headspace. In order to quantify this hazard, experiments are conducted to measure the flammable vapor concentration within this area under various conditions of temperature, liquid volume, and container pour angle. It is found that liquid fuel volumes as high as 30 mL in a 5-gallon PGC are capable of producing a flammable vapors within the PGC headspace. Finally, a mathematical model is presented to predict the flammability hazard under various conditions.

  • Peter Bellino (2012) A Study of Spreading and In Situ Burning of Oil in an Ice Channel

    Abstract: The potential for oil exploration on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf warrants determination of an efficient method to clean up an oil spill. Traditional spill response equipment may not be practical in an Arctic environment; the presence of ice which may prevent proper deployment of equipment. The remoteness of the areas proposed for oil exploration lack the infrastructure and support networks necessary to stage a response to a large oil spill. These difficulties make it necessary to explore alternative means of oil spill cleanup. In situ burning is one method that may be particularly well-suited for arctic and sub-arctic environments due to the minimal amount of equipment required to achieve an efficient burn, i.e. high mass loss. The Arctic and sub- Arctic environments add an additional level of complexity by introducing a spill medium (ice) that is highly unstable at elevated temperatures. Our experiments sought to calculate the mass loss rate of oil mixtures to determine the efficiency with which they burn within ice channels of varying widths. Based on the current bench- scale testing, losses due to ice melting cause the efficiencies of the burning process to be excessively low and not viable to full scale clean up. The results warrant future research to understand how varying other parameters, including starting mass of fuel, influence efficiencies.

    PhD Theses:

  • Kulbhushan Joshi (2011) Factors governing spontaneous ignition of combustible dusts

    Abstract:The problem of self-heating of combustible dusts accumulated on hot surfaces has caused several fires and dust explosions. The current test standards (ASTM E 2021, EN50281-2-1) used to ensure safe environment for a given dust, define a safe temperature of the flat hot surface for certain dust layer thickness. Since in these standards, measurement of temperature is taken along the centerline, they mainly represent a simplified scenario of one-dimensional heat transfer. A need to investigate behavior of spontaneous ignition in dust deposits in complex geometries forms the motivation of this work. The effect of hot surface geometry is experimentally studied by devising wedge-shaped configurations having angles of 60o and 90o. Results show that ignition always occurred around the top region in the case of 60o wedge, and in the top and middle regions in the case of 90o wedge. These trends are explained by investigating three parameters affecting the ignition behavior, namely, the heat transfer from the hot plate to the dust, the rate of heat transfer between different regions within the dust and the minimum volume of dust required to produce sufficient heat release. A mathematical method has been proposed to predict the ignition behavior of dust deposit subjected to any boundary conditions arising due to geometrical confinement...Preliminary results show that heat weathering increases the hazard level for organic (wheat) dust. In summary, the current research work mainly involves modification of the standard test method such as ASTM E-2021 to include an insulated ring instead of a metal ring to ensure one-dimensional heat transfer and extending the test method to include wedge-shaped geometries. The spontaneous ignition of combustible dust in the new setups is investigated thoroughly. Furthermore, mathematical and numerical models have been proposed to simulate the experimental tests. Finally, the effect of two types of weathering processes on the characteristics of spontaneous ignition has been studied. In all the cases, results are thoroughly discussed with the explanation of the physics involved.

  • Scott Rockwell (2012) Influence of Coal Dust on Premixed Turbulent Methane-Air Flames

    Abstract:The hazard associated with dust deflagrations has increased over the last decade industries that manufacture, transport, process, or use combustible dusts. Identification of the controlling parameters of dust deflagration mechanisms is crucial to our understanding of the problem. The objective of this study is to develop an experimental platform, called the Hybrid Flame Analyzer (HFA), capable of measuring the laminar and turbulent burning velocity of gas, dust, and hybrid (gas and dust) air premixed flames as a function of properties specific to the reactants such as dust-particle size and concentration. In this work the HFA is used to analyze a particle-gas-air premixed system composed of coal dust particles (75-90 micron and 106-120 micron) in a premixed CH4-air (equivalence ratio = 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2) flame. This work ultimately aims to improve the knowledge on fundamental aspects of dust flames which is essential for the development of mathematical models. This study is the first of its kind where multiple different parameters that govern flame propagation (initial particle radius, particle concentration, gas phase equivalence ratio, turbulent intensity, and integral length scale) are systematically analyzed in a spatially uniform cloud of volatile particles forming a stationary flame. The experiments show that the turbulent burning velocity is more than two-times larger than the laminar counter-part for each and every case studied. It is observed that smaller particles and larger concentrations (> 50 g/m3) tend to enhance the turbulent burning velocity significantly compared to larger particle sizes and lower concentration ranges. The experimental data is used to develop a correlation similar to turbulent gas flames to facilitate modeling of the complex behavior.

    Noteworthy Journal Papers:

    1. J. P. Crocker,A. S. Rangwala, N. A, Dembsey, and D. J. Le Blanc, "The Effect of Sprinkler Spray on Fire Induced Doorway Flows: New Tools for Performance Based Design" Fire Technology , Vol. 46 (2), 347-362, 2010. Crocker Fire Technology.pdf
    2. T. M. Hetrick and A. S. Rangwala, "A Modified Hold Time Model for Total Flooding Fire Suppression,", Fire Safety J. Vol. 45, pp 12-20, 2010. Hetrick_FSJ.pdf
    3. K. Overholt, M. J. Gollner, F. A.Williams, A. S. Rangwala, and J. Perricone,"Warehouse commodity classification from fundamental principles. Part II: Flame Heights and Flame Spread," Fire Safety J. , Vol. 46 (6), pp 317-329, 2011. Overholt_FSJ_paper_els.pdf
    4. Y. Xie, V. Raghavan, A. S. Rangwala, "Naturally Entraining Solid Particle Injector," Powder Technology Vol. 213, pp 199-201, 2011. (Short Communication) Xie_powder_tech.pdf
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    Last Updated: 17 June 2013
    This site is currently being run by Ali Rangwala any questions or comments can be forwarded to him at rangwala@wpi.edu.