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Numerical simulations of flame spread in pine needle beds using simple thermal decomposition models



Eric Mueller, Zakary Campbell-Lochrie, Carlos Walker-Ravena, Rory Hadden


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models have increased in use for studying scenarios relevant to wildland fires, such as examination of the driving processes in flame spread in vegetative fuels. However, these tools utilize a complex set of submodels which require a large number of input parameters. Often the full set of fuel-specific parameters are not well-quantified and the user must rely upon the best available information. In this study, we examine the implications of using different simple models for thermal decomposition when simulating flame spread in beds of dead pine needles in quiescent conditions. Model results using common literature values are compared to those using data from milligram-scale characterizations of the fuel. An updated model for char oxidation is also included. It was found that the literature values over-predicted mass loss rate by a factor of 2.4, while the fuel-specific values yielded predictions within the experimental uncertainty. The simple decomposition models were also shown to qualitatively capture the role of bed structure on flame spread and the heat flux within the fuel bed.
Fire Safety Journal


Mueller, E. , Campbell-Lochrie, Z. , Walker-Ravena, C. and Hadden, R. (2023), Numerical simulations of flame spread in pine needle beds using simple thermal decomposition models, Fire Safety Journal, [online],, (Accessed April 19, 2024)
Created July 31, 2023, Updated February 23, 2024