Quantification of Performance of Wildfire Chemicals using a Custom-Built Sensible Enthalpy Rise Calorimeter

  • Author / Creator
    Refai, Razim
  • A simple and effective laboratory experiment was developed to investigate the relationship between coverage level, fuel load, and fire intensity for different vegetative fuels. The experiment consisted of a fuel bed consisting of known quantities of fuel load and applied coverage, and an electric-powered radiant heater as a heat source. Fire intensities from controlled laboratory experiments were statistically examined using analysis of variance and Tukey’s Post Hoc tests to evaluate which coverage levels and fuel loads produced significantly different fire intensities. It was found that the effect of coverage level and fuel load variation on fire intensity was dependent on the water retention characteristics of the fuel bed. Information from these experiments was used as input to develop a new laboratory test methodology to evaluate the performance of wildland forest fire chemicals. The proposed custom-built thermal calorimeter, referred to as the “Thermal Canister” in this study, consisted of a rectangular aluminum enclosure that was used to house vegetative fuel beds, and a radiant heater that was used to supply a uniform heat load to ignite the fuel. Temperature data gathered from the thermocouples attached to the surfaces of the enclosure was used as input to a one-dimensional heat conduction model to estimate the heat release rate from the vegetative fuels during combustion. Water, foam, and two types of gels were used as wildfire chemicals to control ignition and combustion of the fuels. The test results indicated that the Thermal Canister was able to characterize the performance of the different fire chemical treatments by comparing the respective heat release rates that were measured by the device. Narrow standard deviation, coefficient of variation, and repeatability standard deviation values suggested that the test methodology was repeatable. The Thermal Canister test methodology can be considered as an alternative, low-cost approach to evaluate the performance of wildfire chemicals.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.