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Free Space Optics Communication System Testing in Smoke and Fire Environments



Alexander Maranghides, William E. Mell, William D. Walton, Erik L. Johnsson, Nelson P. Bryner


Free-Space Optics (also known as FSO , or Optical Wireless ) can be used to transmit optical data, voice and video information. These laser-based systems require unobstructed line of sight to properly operate. FSO system performance, signal intensity and integrity, is related to beam obscuration from weather conditions and the presence of smoke. The Department of Homeland Security and Booz, Allen Hamilton are interested in quantifying the performance of FSO units. Several obscuration scenarios based on the smoke from diesel fuel fires of varying sizes were developed. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), a computational fluid dynamics computer fire model, was used to predict the levels of smoke obscuration for the different fire scenarios at a specified distance above the fire. The FDS predictions were used to design fires smaller than those in the original scenarios that could produce the same smoke concentration. The fire experiments were conducted in the NIST, Building and Fire Research Laboratory, Large Fire Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7317
Report Number


computer fire modeling, diesel fuel fires, fire tests, free space optics, smoke measurement, smoke obscuration


Maranghides, A. , Mell, W. , Walton, W. , Johnsson, E. and Bryner, N. (2006), Free Space Optics Communication System Testing in Smoke and Fire Environments, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 15, 2024)


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Created April 1, 2006, Updated July 30, 2009