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Using the Cone Calorimeter to Develop a Detailed Model of Carpet for Flammability Studies



Kathryn M. Butler, K. R. Samant, John R. Shields


A fundamental mathematical model of carpet is needed for studying the impact of component materials and thicknesses on tests that measure flammability. Of particular interest is the ASTM E648 radiant panel test, which is used to qualify floor coverings for commercial installations. The flammability characteristics of carpet in the cone calorimeter are expected to relate closely to carpet behavior in the ASTM E648 test. Accordingly, the combination of materials and their properties were sought that produces a match between cone calorimeter modeling and experiment. Careful measurements were taken from cone tests performed on broadloom style carpet composites for three types of fiber, on fiber plus primary backing alone, and on samples with adhesive plus one or both backings. Steps were taken to overcome the challenge of securing thin materials that curl and shrink during testing. This combination of tests enabled the determination of mass fraction, char yield, and heat of combustion for each individual component as well as capturing critical information such as time to ignition and effective heat of combustion for whole samples. The resulting multi-layer model predicts heat release and mass loss rates with reasonable accuracy across the range of materials tested and for a range of heat flux. Broadloom style carpet is neither thermally thick nor thermally thin. However, dimensional analysis shows that heat release and mass loss rates at cone heat flux from 15 kW/m2 to 35 kW/m2 can be collapsed into a single curve, offering the potential for solving the radiant panel problem in a collapsed form.
Proceedings Title
Fire and Materials 2015
Conference Dates
February 2-4, 2015
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA


cone calorimeter, carpet, flammability, modeling


Butler, K. , Samant, K. and Shields, J. (2015), Using the Cone Calorimeter to Develop a Detailed Model of Carpet for Flammability Studies, Fire and Materials 2015, San Francisco, CA, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created February 1, 2015, Updated August 26, 2020