Numerical simulations of flame spread in pine needle beds using simple thermal decomposition models

Eric V. Mueller*, Zakary Campbell-Lochrie, Carlos Walker-Ravena, Rory M. Hadden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models have increased in use for studying scenarios relevant to wildland fires, such as examination of the driving processes in flame spread in vegetative fuels. However, these tools utilize a complex set of submodels which require a large number of input parameters. Often the full set of fuel-specific parameters are not well-quantified and the user must rely upon the best available information. In this study, we examine the implications of using different simple models for thermal decomposition when simulating flame spread through a bed of dead pine needles in quiescent conditions. Model results using one set of common literature values are compared to those using data from milligram-scale characterizations of the fuel. An updated model for char oxidation is also implemented and tested. It was found that the literature values over-predicted mass loss rate by a factor of 2.4, while the fuel-specific values yielded predictions within the experimental uncertainty. A simple approach to decomposition modeling was also shown to be useful for investigating the role of bed structure on flame spread and the heat flux within the fuel bed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103886
JournalFire Safety Journal
Early online date31 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • CFD
  • Flame spread
  • Modeling
  • Wildfires


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