An Experimental and numerical study on the combustion characteristics of pool fires in tunnels

Shafee, Sina
This work presents the results of experimental and numerical analysis on tunnel fires in an attempt to improve existing knowledge on the fire dynamics and related safety measures in various tunnel fire scenarios. Results are grouped into four parts in which the effects of tunnel wall coating, inclination, tunnel obstruction and existence of secondary fire source in close vicinity were investigated on tunnel fire characteristics. A 1/13 longitudinally ventilated scaled tunnel model constructed based on Froude modeling was used in the experiments with ethanol pools as the fire source. Numerical simulations were carried out using Fire Dynamics Simulator code. The focus was on critical factors in the safety research community including heat release rate (fire load), burning rate of fire and tunnel temperature distribution, which were measured across a wide range of ventilation conditions, pool size and depth. Results emphasized that the overall variations in the burning rates of fires at different ventilation conditions was a function of competing factors that affect the heat release rate, mass transfer coefficient and cooling effect of the airflow. The application of absorptive wall coating led to considerable reduction of radiative heat flux to upstream of fire. Burning rate and the heat release rate of fire showed an increase as high as 125 % under the effect of the secondary fire source, emphasizing the need to account for possible secondary fires in tunnel safety design. In case of blocked fire tests, the results from experiments as well as simulations indicated that due to changes in local ventilation velocity and flow pattern upstream of the fire, heat release rates tend to increase as high as 0.7 MW/m2 compared to un-blocked fire under certain test conditions. It was also shown that tunnel inclination is an influential parameter that affects the smoke movement and ventilation requirements of tunnel considerably.