Experiments in the Fire Lab

For the course Advanced Fire Dynamics at Lund University we performed an experiment in the Fire Lab. We were divided in groups of four and had an initial meeting in the lab to get comfortable with the equipment and to decide what experiment each group would perform. The experiment had to be performed in an enclosure, but we could decide what fuel to use, where to position it, and what data to measure.

All groups decided to use heptane as the fuel source, which means that everybody analyzed the behavior of pool fires, but each group had decided for different positions of the fire in the enclosure and different measurements to be performed. Those measurements were achieved with the aid of thermocouples, bi-directional probes, a heat flux sensor, and an exhaust gas analyzer. Each group could perform four tests, but before starting a new test the enclosure had to cool down for at least 45 minutes!

It was great to see in practice what we have been studying in theory for the past months, as well as doing calculations on real data.

In the pictures we have the heptane pool fire in the enclosure during an experiment, and the group formed by Ain, Nikhil, Rohan and Ross during the initial meeting with our lab supervisor.




The very first visit to a fire lab

At the end of the first semester in Edinburgh, Dr. Carvel who teaches the course of Fire Dynamics told us that we are going to have a lab session in the last week of the semester, just a few days before the exam!! We thought that it would be a wasting of time (that we wanted to invest in studying!), but, in the end, we were wrong about that.

So at that day, we started the day early by sitting in groups and preparing a risk assessment for our visit. After that, we headed to the lab where we met some of the PhD students and started to prepare ourselves for the experiment after wearing the safety goggles.

It is an annual activity in the lab to burn a Christmas tree after the beginning of the New Year. That being said, our experiment was an exception, as we made it before the Christmas. Dr. Carvel brought a small tree, but the bad news, it was newly cut and fairly fresh so it was still wet to burn!

However, we tried to burn a branch of the tree as it is, but we failed even with the help of external flames as the branch did not sustain burning as its own. Therefore, we put another branch in the dryer for a while then ignited it and it worked. We also used the cone calorimeter to burn some twigs of the tree.

After the lunch, we carried out the experiment to burn the whole tree by setting a pool fire of Heptane under it. We got a peak of 250 kW from the experiment (but most of the heat release rate came from the Heptane itself).

It was great to have this visit as first-semester students, it showed us the different parts of the lab. We learned about the equipment used to make fire experiments. Besides having fun as it was an extra activity for the module and no additional efforts were needed.