An Engineering CFD Model for Fire Spread on Wood Cribs for Travelling Fires  

Xu Dai, Antonio Gamba, Chang Liu, Johan Anderson, Marion Charlier, David Rush, Stephen Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The temperature heterogeneity due to fire in large open-plan office compartments is closely associated with fire spread behaviour and has been historically limited to experimental investigations using timber cribs. This study explores the ability of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models, specifically the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), to reproduce the results of full-scale tests involving fire spread over timber cribs for continuous fuel-beds. Mesh schemes are studied, with a fine mesh over the crib and 2 × 2 cells in the wood stick cross-section by default, this being relaxed in the surrounding regions to enhance computational efficiency. The simple pyrolysis model considers the charring phase and moisture. In application to the TRAFIR-Liège LB7 test, this calibrated “stick-by-stick” representation shows a good agreement for interrelated parameters of heat release rate, fire spread, gas phase temperature, and burn-away, a set of agreements which has not been demonstrated in previous studies. Fire spread shows relatively high sensitivities to: heat of combustion, ignition temperature, thermal inertia, radiation fraction, heat release rate per unit area, and the fuel load density. An approximately linear regression was found between the different fire modes and the thermal exposures, with “travelling” (and decaying) fires characterised by heat fluxes associated with the fire plume, while the growing fires were associated with proportionally higher heat fluxes on the horizontal surfaces of the sticks, in conditions where these receive more pre-heating. The trends in the overall HRR are more dependent on the fire spread rates than variations in the stick burning rates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103213
Number of pages26
JournalAdvances in Engineering Software
Early online date7 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Fire spread
  • CFD modeling
  • FDS
  • Wood crib fire experiments
  • Travelling fires
  • CFD modelling


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