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Smoke Plume Trajectory From In Situ Burning of Crude Oil in Alaska (NISTIR 5273)



Kevin B. McGrattan, Anthony D. Putorti Jr., W H. Twilley, D D. Evans


Experimentation, analysis, and modeling have been performed to predict the downwind dispersion of smoke resulting from in situ burning of oil spills. North Slope and Cook Inlet crude oils are burned on water in a 1.2 meter diameter pan. Smoke yields were found to be 11.6% + 1.0 for North Slope crude, and 9.2% + 0.6 Cook Inlet crude by mass of fuel consumed, with a 95% confidence interval. Burning rates and smoke aerosol size distributions are also measured, and found similar to previous work with different crude oils. Derivation of scaling factors for predicting the burning rates and smoke yields of large scale fires are guided by previous experiments with Louisiana crude oil. Scaled burning rates and smoke yields are supplied as input parameters for the LES (Large Eddy Simulation) model, version 2.0, of windblown smoke transport over flat terrain. For weather conditions appropriate for the Cook Inlet and North Slope areas, model results are presented which predict downwind dispersion and ground level concentrations of the fire generated particulate matter. The model predicts that ground level particulate concentrations in excess of 150 mg/m3 are limited to strips 5 km long and 1 km wide downwind of the fire for all meteorological conditions considered.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 5273
Report Number


crude oil, oil spills, in situ combustion, pool fires, smoke, fire plumes, smoke movement, in situ burning


McGrattan, K. , Putorti, A. , Twilley, W. and Evans, D. (1993), Smoke Plume Trajectory From In Situ Burning of Crude Oil in Alaska (NISTIR 5273), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created October 1, 1993, Updated November 10, 2018