A calorimetric study of wildland fuels

C. F. Schemel, Albert Simeoni, H. Biteau, J. D. Rivera, Jose Torero-Cullen

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The burning of two species of pine needles: Pinus halepensis and Pinus pinaster, was studied to characterize the behavior of the forest floor in wildland fires. These fuels are representative of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have very different shapes and surface-to-volume ratios. Calorimetry was performed using the FM-global fire propagation apparatus (FPA). To better understand the effects of transport in the fuel beds, the standard sample holder was replaced by a holder that allowed for the porous properties of the fuel to be studied in a systematic manner. These holders were designed with holes on the surface to allow for different air flow rates to pass through the holder and into the fuel sample. These characteristics created different internal fuel bed conditions and were the first such tests that could be identified that examined transport on this level in these types of wildland fuels. Tests were conducted under natural convection and forced flow. The test series results were analyzed with respect to the direct values of the measured variables and calculated values of heat release rate. Discrete variables of time to ignition, duration of flaming combustion and peak heat release rate were compared using an analysis of variance method. As the experiments were conducted under well-ventilated conditions, the heat release rate calculated by calorimetry was compared to mass loss rate and heat of combustion. CO concentration in time proved to be a good indicator of the combustion dynamics in the fuel bed. Heat release rate, time to ignition and time to reach peak heat release rate indicated a strong dependence on flow conditions and on fuel specie. It was shown that the transport processes in the fuel beds had a significant effect on the burning characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1389
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • wildland fuels
  • calorimetry
  • porous fuels
  • heat release rate
  • BEDS

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