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Effects of Sample Width and Sidewalls on Downward Flame Spread over XPS Slabs

An W., Xiao H., Sun, J., Liew, K.M., Yan W., Zhou Y., Jiang L. and Huang, X., 2014. Effects of Sample Width and Sidewalls on Downward Flame Spread over XPS Slabs. Fire Safety Science 11: 234-247. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.11-234


To study the effects of sample width and sidewalls on downward flame spread over extruded polystyrene (XPS) slabs, a series of laboratory-scale experiments were conducted. Flame shape, flame spread rate, mass loss rate and temperature were recorded. For XPS without sidewalls, the average maximum flame height (H) and average flame area per unit of width (A/w) rise linearly with an increase in sample width (w) and mass loss rate per unit of width. When sidewalls are absent, flame spread rate first drops and then rises with an increase in width. This trend is determined by gas-phase heat transfer. When sidewalls are present, flame spread rate increases with a rise in width, and solid-phase heat conduction determines the trend. Sidewall effects are comprised of four aspects: oxygen concentration near the sidewalls and gypsum board is low, which leads to reduced flame heat flux; upward and front air flow is intensified; the flame is stretched, and the surface flame is weakened; and molten XPS mass decreases. For narrow samples, H and A/w with sidewalls are higher than those without sidewalls, while the reverse was observed in wider samples. The mass loss rate, preheating length and average flame spread rate with sidewalls are smaller than those obtained without sidewalls. Flame spread acceleration with sidewalls occurs at a broader width than that without sidewalls. The experimental results agree well with the theoretical analysis.


sidewall effects, width effects, extruded polystyrene (XPS), flame spread

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