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Combustion of Oil on Water.



Howard R. Baum, George W. Mulholland, D D. Evans, B J. McCaffrey, M F. Harkleroad, W F. Manders


This report contains the results of measurements performed on both 0.4 m and 0.6 m diameter pool fires produced by burning a layer of Prudhoe Bay crude oil supported by a thermally deep layer of water. Both steady and vigorous burning caused by boiling of the water sublayer were observed. The measured energy release rate for steady burning was about 640 kW/m(2). The emission rate, the size distribution, and specific extinction coefficient were measured for the smoke aerosol produced by the fires. Data were also obtained on the structure of the smoke aerosol by electron microscopy and on emission of CO and CO2. Analysis of the crude oil burn residue indicated selected depletion of the short chain alkanes and cycloalkanes when compared to the fresh oil. Mono-ring aromatics including benzene, toluene, and xylenes present in the fresh crude were absent in the burn residue. Calculations of the induced air flow into a simulated distribution of 20 fires over a 100 m x 100 m area showed that the maximum inflow velocity near the largest size fire (2.5 m diameter, 3.2 MW) was 1.1 m/s.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


burning rate, fire plumes, liquid fuels, offshore platforms, oilspill, pool fires, smoke generation


Baum, H. , Mulholland, G. , Evans, D. , McCaffrey, B. , Harkleroad, M. and Manders, W. (1987), Combustion of Oil on Water., Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created November 1, 1987, Updated August 12, 2014