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A Study of the Parameters Influencing Liquid Fuel Burning Rates

Mealy, C., Benfer M. and Gottuk, D.T., 2011. A Study of the Parameters Influencing Liquid Fuel Burning Rates. Fire Safety Science 10: 945-958. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.10-945


An understanding of the mass burning rate of a fuel and the factors affecting this rate is paramount when assessing the hazards associated with a liquid fuel spill/pool scenario. To date, the vast majority of mass burning rate data originates [1, 2] from liquid fuel fire scenarios where the fuel layer is ‘deep’. However, recent studies [3, 4] have shown that for thin fuel layer scenarios, the maximum mass burning rate achieved is on the order of one-fifth that presented for these ‘deep’ scenarios. This study investigates the factors affecting the mass burning rate of several different liquid fuels using both fixed area and unconfined fire scenarios. A test program comprised of over 500 small- and large-scale tests was conducted on various substrates using various fuels. The results of the study demonstrate a dependence of the mass burning rate on both duration fuel supply and substrate, among others. Correlations were developed to modify the peak mass burning rates as a function of fuel supply duration (which can be depth) and the impact of substrate relative to the thermal properties of the substrate were discussed.

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