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Influence of Angle Orientation on Firebrand Production from the Combustion of Surrogate Photovoltaic (PV) Panel Assemblies Exposed to Applied Wind Fields



Samuel L. Manzello, Sayaka Suzuki


A shared feature in the rapid spread of large outdoor fires are the production or generation of new, far smaller combustible fragments from the original fire source referred to as firebrands. A simplified experimental protocol has been developed that allows for the study of firebrand generation processes from various structural materials exposed to an applied wind field. The influence of angle of orientation on the firebrand production process is investigated. The thickest firebrands were produced with experiments with 45° angle under 8 m/s. The influence of angle was found to have the same trend under the tested wind speeds and to be more apparent at 8 m/s than 6 m/s. As installation angles are a key factor for photovoltaic panel (PV) efficiency, often only the solar energy efficiency is considered in PV panel orientation decisions. Yet, this study demonstrates that the types of firebrands generated in the event of large outdoor fires were sensitive to the angle of installation for structural materials used as surrogates for PV panels. The work is unique in that is begins the discussion on firebrand production from cutting edge home technologies, such as PV panels. These results have implications for how installation angles may influence firebrand production in the event of large outdoor fire outbreaks.


WUI Fires, Firebrands
Created July 6, 2020