Evaluation of Thermal Radiation Models for Fire Spread Between Objects
Thesis DisciplineFire Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering in Fire Engineering
Fire spread between objects within a compartment is primarily due to the impingement of thermal radiation from the fire source. In order to estimate if or when a remote object from the fire will ignite, one must be able to quantify the radiative heat flux being received by the target. There are a variety of methods presented in the literature that attempt to calculate the thermal radiation to a target; each one based on assumptions about the fire.
The performance of six of these methods, of varying complexity, is investigated in this research. This includes the common point source model, three different cylindrical models, a basic correlation and a planar model. In order to determine the performance of each method, the predictions made by the models were compared with actual measurements of radiant heat flux. This involved taking heat flux readings at numerous locations surrounding a propane gas burner. Different fire scenarios were represented by varying the burner geometry and heat release rate. Video recordings of the experiments were used to determine the mean flame heights using video image analysis software.
After comparing the measured data with predictions made by the theoretical radiation methods, the point source model was found to be the best performing method on average. This was unexpected given the relative simplicity of the model in comparison to some of its counterparts. Additionally, the point source model proved to be the most robust of the six methods investigated, being least affected by the experimental variables. The Dayan and Tien method, one of the cylindrical models, was the second most accurate over the range of conditions tested in this work.
Based on these findings, recommendations are made as to the most appropriate method for use in a radiation sub-model within an existing zone model software. The accuracy shown by the point source model, coupled with its ease of implementation, means that it should be suitable for such a use.