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In-Situ Burning of Oil Spills: Mesoscale Experiments (NIST SP 995)



D. D. Evans, William D. Walton, Howard R. Baum, Kathy A. Notarianni, James R. Lawson, Hai C. Tang, K. R. Keydel, Ronald G. Rehm, Daniel M. Madrzykowski, Richard H. Zile, H Koseki, E J. Tennyson


In 1991 a series of 14 mesoscale fire experiments were performed to measure the burning characteristics of crude oil on salt water. These oil burns in a pan ranged in size from 6 m square to 15 m square. Results of the measurements for burning rate and smoke emissions are compared to those from previous smaller scale burns conducted both in the U. S. and in Japan. The burning rate as indicated by the regression rate of the oil surface was found to be 0.055 + 0.01 mm/s for pan fires with effective diameters greater than 7 m. Smoke particulate yields from fires greater than 2 m in diameter were found to be approximately 0.13 of the oil burned on a mass basis. Predictions of smoke plume trajectory and particulate deposition at ground level from the Large Eddy Simulation (LES) model developed as part of this research effort were found to be different from those predicted by the EPA approved SCREEN model. LES is a steady-state three-dimensional calculation of smoke plume trajectory and smoke particulate deposition based on a mixed finite difference and Lagrangian particle tracking method.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


oil spills, in situ combustion, experiments, crude oil, salt water, burning rate, smoke emisions, regression rate, heat of combustion, configurations, instruments, smoke yield, particle size distribution, mathematical models, in situ burning


Evans, D. , Walton, W. , Baum, H. , Notarianni, K. , Lawson, J. , Tang, H. , Keydel, K. , Rehm, R. , Madrzykowski, D. , Zile, R. , Koseki, H. and Tennyson, E. (2003), In-Situ Burning of Oil Spills: Mesoscale Experiments (NIST SP 995), Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created February 28, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021