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Carmignani, L., Garg, P., Thomsen, M., Gollner, M. J., Fernandez-Pello, C., Urban, D. L., et al. (2022). Effect of sub-atmospheric pressure on the characteristics of concurrent/upward flame spread over a thin solid. Combust. Flame, 245, 112312.
Abstract: The variation of ambient pressure is a potential tool for studying the driving parameters of fire dynamics and heat release in low-pressure environments such as high-altitude locations, aircraft, and spacecraft. The study of upward flame spread over a solid fuel has direct implications on material flammability and fire development, and low pressure environments have recently gained more attention for the possible comparison with the reduced gravity conditions encountered during space missions. In this work, we consider upward spreading flames over thin acrylic sheets in ambient pressures between 30 and 100 kPa. A forced flow velocity of 20 cm/s is added to the naturally-driven buoyant flow, creating a mixed flow field (natural and forced) that varies with pressure. Flame characteristics such as spread rate and standoff distance are measured from the video analysis of the experiments. It is observed that the former decreases with pressure while the latter increases. The larger flame stand-off distance at low pressures partially explains the decrease of the flame spread rate since the convective heat flux from the flame to the solid decreases. Additionally, volumetric concentrations of the combustion products are measured during the experiments. The results show lower O-2 consumption and CO2 production rates at lower pressures. Based on these rates, we could calculate the heat release rate from upward spreading flames at low pressure, providing fundamental information for better understanding pressure-gravity correlations. According to the results, the volumetric heat release rate is proportional to pressure, which is consistent with previous studies on pressure modeling of fires. This suggests that chemical kinetics is not a constraint for the conditions tested in this study, which could help make future flammability tests comparable to low gravity ones.
Parot, R., Rivera, J. I., Reszka, P., Torero, J. L., & Fuentes, A. (2022). A simplified analytical model for radiation dominated ignition of solid fuels exposed to multiple non-steady heat fluxes. Combust. Flame, 237, 111866.
Abstract: Heat fluxes from fires are strongly time-dependent. Historically, the thermal ignition theory in its classical form has neglected this time dependency until recent years, where theories have been developed to include time-varying incident heat fluxes. This article proposes a simplified general model formulation for the heating of solid fuels exposed to four different heat flux behaviors, considering the penetration of radiation into the medium. The incident heat flux cases developed where: Constant, Linear, Exponential and Polynomial, which represent different situations related to structural and wildland fires. The analytical models consider a spatially averaged medium temperature and exact and approximate solutions are presented, based on the critical ignition temperature criterion, which are valid for solids of any optical thickness. The results were validated by comparison with various models presented in the literature, where the model granted in this work was capable to adjust to all of them, especially when high heat fluxes are involved. Therefore, the proposed model acquires a significant engineering utility since it provides a single model to be used as a general and versatile tool to predict the ignition delay time in a manageable way for solid fuels exposed to different fire conditions.
Thomsen, M., Fernandez-Pello, C., Urban, D. L., & Ruff, G. A. (2021). On simulating the effect of gravity on concurrent flame spread over thin paper through variations in ambient pressure. Combust. Flame, 232, 111538.
Abstract: The environment inside a spacecraft, or a space habitat, can greatly differ from those on earth, affecting the burning behavior of solid fuels. Because in a gravity field there is a flame-induced buoyancy, it is very difficult to reproduce on Earth the environmental conditions of a spacecraft, or a habitat in the Moon or Mars, thus making fire testing and burning predictions harder. A potential alternative approach to overcome this problem is to reduce buoyancy effects by using reduced ambient pressure in normal gravity. The objective of this work is to explore the possibility of simulating the effect of gravity, and in turn buoyancy, through changes in ambient pressure, on upward/concurrent flame spread over a thin combustible solid. Comparisons with available data at different gravity levels are used to determine the extent to which low-pressure can be used to replicate flame spread characteristics at different gravities. Experiments of the upward/concurrent flame spread over thin Kimwipe paper sheets were conducted in normal gravity inside a pressure chamber with ambient pressures ranging between 100 and 30 kPa and a forced flow velocity of 10 cm/s. Results show that reductions of pressure slow down the flame spread over the paper surface, and also reduces flame intensity. Comparison with published partial gravity data shows that as the pressure is reduced, the normal gravity flame spread rate approaches that observed at different gravity levels. The data presented is correlated in terms of a mixed convection non-dimensional number that describes the convective heat transferred from the flame to the solid, and that also describes the primary mechanism controlling the spread of the flame. The correlation provides information about the similitudes of the flame spread process in variable pressure, flow velocity and gravity environments, providing guidance for potential ground-based testing for fire safety design in spacecraft. (c) 2021 The Combustion Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.