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CFD Study of Huge Oil Depot Fires - Generation of Fire Merging and Fire Whirl in (7 x 7) Arrayed Oil Tanks

Satoh, K., Liu, N., Xie X., Zhou K., Chen, Hang-Chun, Wu, J., Lei J. and Lozano, J., 2011. CFD Study of Huge Oil Depot Fires - Generation of Fire Merging and Fire Whirl in (7 x 7) Arrayed Oil Tanks. Fire Safety Science 10: 693-705. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.10-693


One of the largest disasters on industrial fires may exist in oil tank depots which store much amount of oil. Many previous studies on the fire safety of oil tank depots have been related to the fire propagation from one single oil tank fire to the adjacent tank via radiation. However, single oil tank fire may cause a fire whirl in windy conditions, entraining much more ambient air and enhancing flame radiation, which may increase the possibility of fire propagation toward the neighbors. In addition, when an oil depot storing large amount of oil in tanks is subject to destructive earthquakes, merging fires and fire whirls may be generated, leading to disastrous consequences. In this work, the authors examined the fire merging and fire whirl behaviors in multiple huge oil tank fires by CFD simulations, by FDS-4. The constant heat release rate model was employed and the effects of tank-to-tank distance, wind speed and heat release rate were examined. It was found that these parameters are important to cause the fire merging and fire whirls, and at the same time, the conditions to cause fire merging and fire whirls lie in a limiting range. Some relevant correlations were established. The results are expected to be useful for mitigating the disasters due to fire merging and fire whirls.

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