Assessment of Vehicle Fire Development in Road Tunnels for Smoke Control Ventilation Design
Thesis DisciplineFire Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
A fire in road tunnel can be dangerous and lead to serious consequences if not addressed appropriately. In a tunnel fire incident, creating a smoke free path for motorist evacuation and facilitating fire fighters to access the fire is critical for fire and rescue operations. A means of achieving this is to use ventilation fans to blow sufficient air down the tunnel ensuring no back-layering of smoke occurs upstream of the fire. The airflow necessary for such operation is known as the critical velocity which is a function of a number of factors includes; heat release rate, tunnel geometry, tunnel gradient etc. Among these parameters, the heat release rate is the most difficult to identify as this value is dependent on the types of vehicles, number of vehicles involved, the type of cargo and the quantity of cargo carried by these vehicles. There are also other factors such as the influence of ventilation condition, tunnel geometry and the use of legislation (to restrict hazardous vehicles entering in tunnel) that could affect the heat release rate in a tunnel fire. The number of possible fire scenarios is numerous. Based on current practise, fire size selection for most tunnel ventilation design often references various guidelines such as NFPA 502, BD78/99 or the PIARC technical committee report. The heat release rate, particularly for goods vehicle recommended by the guidelines varies from 20 to 30 MW. However, recent fire tests conducted in the Runehamar tunnel experiments indicate a higher heat release rate. These experiments suggest that heat release rate guidelines for goods vehicles might be underestimated. An ideal means to estimate the heat release rate in the tunnel is to use the oxygen consumption calorimetry technique. However, this approach is generally expensive, logistically complicated to perform and it is often not feasible to conduct such tests for a tunnel project at the initial design stage simply because the structure and systems are not ready for such activities. This research thesis presents an approach to establish a design fire in a road tunnel particularly the peak heat release rate for emergency tunnel ventilation system design. The analysis consists of two stages; stage one involves the use of a probabilistic approach (risk analysis) to identify the potential cause and type of vehicle which could result in a tunnel fire. Findings from the risk analysis are used in stage two in which Computational Fluid II Dynamics (CDF) modelling is used to establish the heat release rate in the tunnel considering factors such as fuel load, ventilation condition, tunnel geometry and ignition location. The Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS 4.0.7), a CFD model of fire-driven fluid flow is used for the analysis and an urban road tunnel project in Singapore is used to illustrate this methodology. Other topic related to this research work includes the reconstruction for the Runehamar tunnel fire test using numerical approach to calibrate the FDS simulation model. The used of Probabilistic Bayesian approach and CFD approach using FDS to estimate the heat release rate in the tunnel is also investigated in this thesis. The effect of vehicle fire spread in road tunnel and numerical simulation of road tunnel fires using parallel processing is presented. Preliminary work in using FDS5 for tunnel simulation work is discussed as part of the research work in this project.