Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Kozo Saito

Second Advisor

Dr. Nelson Akafuah

Abstract

The fundamental physics governing wildland fire spread are still largely misunderstood. This thesis was motivated by the need to better understand the role of radiative and convective heat transfer in the ignition and spread of wildland fires. The focus of this work incorporated the use of infrared thermographic imaging techniques to investigate fuel particle response from three different heating sources: convective dominated heating from an air torch, radiative dominated heating from a crib fire, and an advancing flame front in a laboratory wind tunnel test. The series of experiments demonstrated the uniqueness and valuable characteristics of infrared thermography to reveal the hidden nature of heat transfer and combustion aspects which are taking place in the condensed phase of wildland fuelbeds. In addition, infrared thermal image-based temperature history and ignition behavior of engineered cardboard fuel elements subjected to convective and radiative heating supported experimental findings that millimeter diameter pine needles cannot be ignited by radiation alone even under long duration fire generated radiant heating. Finally, fuel characterization using infrared thermography provided a better understanding of the condensed phase fuel pyrolysis and heat transfer mechanisms governing the response of wildland fuel particles to an advancing flame front.

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