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Imaging Through Fire Using Narrow-Spectrum Illumination



Christopher M. Smith, Matthew Hoehler


This paper demonstrates a simple method to enhance visibility through clean-burning flames that allows new opportunities to perform optical metrology in fire research. The method combines narrow-spectrum, blue illumination and matched optical filters to reduce the influence of optical emissions from a glowing hot target and a large natural gas diffusion flame. The paper describes how the required illumination strength and filtering can be estimated from basic combustion and optical principles. Compared to white light, the required illumination to detect objects engulfed in flames with this method is reduced by a factor of 10^4. A series of experiments are conducted to determine the effectiveness of this method, successfully demonstrating the ability to take images of objects in natural gas fires up to 1000 kW using 200 W of illumination power. These experiments corroborate the estimation of relative optical intensities, as it is observed that the target can be imaged successfully when the estimated signal-to-noise ratio exceeds 2:1. The temporal averaging of successive images is also demonstrated to further improve the image quality.
Fire Technology


Imaging, Fire, Narrow-spectrum illumination, Metrology, Blue light


Smith, C. and Hoehler, M. (2018), Imaging Through Fire Using Narrow-Spectrum Illumination, Fire Technology, [online],, (Accessed March 1, 2024)
Created July 22, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021