Controlling Object Heat Release Rate using Geometrical Features

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Virginia Tech


An experimental study was conducted to determine the effect of complex geometries on the burning rate of materials made using additive manufacturing. Controlling heat release rate has applicability in limiting fire hazards as well as for designing fuels for optimal burning rate. The burning rate of a structure is a function of the material properties as well as the airflow through it, which is dictated by the geometry. This burning rate is generally proportional to the porosity for objects in which the flow is limited by the path constriction. The relations between porosity and burning rate are well studied for wood cribs, which are layers of wood sticks. Crib and other objects with various geometric features were constructed of ABS plastic and coal powder using additive manufacturing processes. A cone calorimeter using oxygen calorimetry was used to measure the heat release rate of the crib specimens. Within the flow limited burning regime, the burning rate of an object is proportional to the porosity factor. Porosity factors calculated from a 1-D theoretical burn rate model as well as from two empirical models were found to correlate the heat release rate results for the crib samples. The heat release rate results of the complex geometries generally correlated to the same porosity factor; however, the model was modified to account for differences between regularly shaped cribs and objects with different sized flow areas. Using the empirical models provides good correlation for the crib burning data and gives a clearer delineation between the flow-limited and surface area controlled regimes.



Heat Release Rate, Cone Calorimeter, Crib, Geometry, Fire