Large Scale Heat Transfer of Fire

Large-Scale Experiments Conclude for Heat Transfer and Fire Damage Patterns on Walls

March 13, 2023

Experiments for UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) research project, Heat Transfer and Fire Damage Patterns on Walls, concluded in February. A series of experiments focusing on producing validation data for heat transfer and fire damage patterns on walls exposed to fires were conducted in collaboration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives- Fire Research Laboratory (ATF-FRL). The experiments, conducted from December 5, 2022, to February 2, 2023, used natural gas burners, gasoline pools, heptane pools, wood cribs, wood cribs with polyurethane foam, and an upholstered chair as fire sources.

For these experiments a free-standing wall was subjected to thermal exposure from the aforementioned fire sources under an exhaust hood instrumented for heat release rate measurement. Tests were performed in triplicate on three wall types including a thin steel sheet, calcium silicate board, and gypsum wallboard. The former two wall types address the heat transfer objectives of the project, while the latter wall type addresses the fire damage patterns objective.

During the tests, video was recorded facing the wall and parallel to the wall to estimate the fire area and flame height. After each test, photographs were taken of the wall to document the discoloration fire effects. Other measurements included gas temperatures near the wall, surface temperatures around the fire, total and radiative heat flux to the wall at five locations, and wall surface temperatures via infrared thermography. 

“The objective of this research is to establish a comprehensive dataset encompassing fire damage patterns and heat transfer in fire-exposed walls. With experiments completed, we are now analyzing data to gain insight on the relationship between thermal exposure and discoloration and mass loss fire effects.”

—Matt DiDomizio, research engineer

This research is supported by Grant Number 15PNIJ-21-GG-04167-RESS, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Heat Transfer and Fire Damage Patterns on Walls for Fire Model Validation