Assessment and application of phosphor thermometry for spatially resolved surface temperature measurements during downward flame spread

Joe Burnford, David Morrisset*, Anthony Ojo, Rory M. Hadden, Angus Law, Brian Peterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Flame spread over a solid surface is a critical metric in assessing the fire hazard of a material. At the core of the flame spread problem is heat transfer to and within the solid fuel. Accurate measurement of surface temperature on the burning solid is necessary to describe the heat transfer mechanisms which drive flame spread. This work employs phosphor thermometry to measure the spatiotemporal surface temperature during downward flame spread over polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) samples. The phosphor Gd3Ga5O12:Cr,Ce is used to measure surface temperature in a 23mm x23mm area with spatial resolution of 410 µm. CH* chemiluminescence imaging is performed alongside phosphor thermometry to measure the flame spread rate and evaluate the surface temperature relative to the flame position. This work investigates the limitations and considerations required to adequately measure surface temperatures in a flame spread scenario using phosphor thermometry. The optimal phosphor coating thickness to prevent interference with the flame spread process is first investigated. Phosphor coating thicknesses of 6 µm and 4 µm impeded flame spread rate and altered the flame shape – thus proving too invasive for this application. A coating thickness of 2 µm, which provided a phosphor to PMMA surface ratio of 0.55/0.45, had no measurable effect on the flame spread behavior and provided reliable 2D surface temperature measurements. The phosphor measurements presented exhibit a similar reliability to a thermocouple, but provide spatially resolved surface temperatures and provide measurement access to the surface underneath the flame sheet. The findings report 2D spatiotemporal surface temperature measurements ahead of the flame front, at the flame’s leading edge, and in the pyrolyzing region immediately behind the flame front. Detailed, surface temperatures underneath the flame sheet are novel to the use of phosphor thermometry and have not been previously recorded. This study showcases this diagnostic technique in the context of flame spread, and shows the potential of applying these methods to other flammability problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number131201
Early online date21 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • phosphor thermometry
  • surface temperature
  • flame spread
  • pyrolysis
  • fire science


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