Burning Rate of Liquid Fuel on Carpet (Porous Media)

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The occurrence of a liquid fuel burning on carpet has been involved in many incendiary and accidental fires. While the research on a liquid fuel fire on carpet is still limited, much work on porous media has been performed using sand or glass beads soaked with liquid fuel. In this study, a heat and mass transfer theory was first developed to analyze the burning process of liquid on carpet, and then several small-scale tests were performed to validate the theory. This analysis is valid for pool fires intermediate in size (5–20 cm. in diameter). The experimental apparatus consisted of a circular pan (105 mm) and a load cell. Varying amounts of fuels (heptane, kerosene and methanol) were spilled onto the carpet, which was allowed to burn in a quiescent environment. It was found that due to the different controlling mechanisms, the liquid burning rate could be less or more than that of a similarly spilled free-burning pool fire. For the worst-case scenario in fires, the maximum enhancement of the burning rate due to the porous media is predictable through the physical properties of the fuel. This analysis is valid for both combustion and evaporation. Several similar results in the scientific literature are analyzed to further describe the trend. This work explains the role of carpet in liquid pool fires and also helps to explain special risks related to the presence of carpet involved in arsons and will be useful in reconstruction of the early development of an incendiary or accidental fire.

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