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Fire Spread and Growth on Flexible Polyurethane Foam



William M. Pitts, Gregory Hasapis, Patrick Macatangga


A series of experiments designed to characterize fire spread and growth on flat samples of commercial non-fire-retarded flexible polyurethane foam have been performed. 1.2 m × 1.2 m square sections of foam were ignited along one edge, and the fire spread rates were monitored using three video cameras. Time-resolved heat release and mass loss rates and local surface heat fluxes and foam recession rates for a location 91 cm from the ignited edge were determined. Experimental parameters varied included foam thickness (2.5 cm, 5.1 cm, 7.6 cm, 10.2 cm, and 20.3 cm) and burning angle (+25 º, +12.5 º, 0 º, -12.5 º, and -25 º). Commercial polyurethane foam is typically produced by reacting a multi-functional isocyanate with a polyol. Cone calorimeter studies of the foam revealed a clear two-stage pyrolysis behavior in which the heated foam first releases a gaseous fuel derived from the isocyanate component while leaving behind a liquid consisting primarily of the polyol, which only gasifies and burns following additional heating. In this paper selected results from the experiments are used to demonstrate that the two-stage pyrolysis behavior plays a dominant role in the observed burning behaviors of the foam slabs.
Proceedings Title
2009 Fall Technical Meeting of the Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute
Conference Dates
October 18-21, 2009
Conference Location
College Park, MD


fire spread, flexible polyurethane foam, heat release rate, isocyanate, polyol, pool fire


Pitts, W. , , G. and Macatangga, P. (2009), Fire Spread and Growth on Flexible Polyurethane Foam, 2009 Fall Technical Meeting of the Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute , College Park, MD (Accessed May 30, 2024)


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Created October 18, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017