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International Journal of Wildland Fire
  Published on behalf of the International Association of Wildland Fire
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Mathematical Model and Sensor Development for Measuring Energy Transfer from Wildland Fires

Erik Sullivan, Andre McDonald


Current practices for measuring high heat flux, in scenarios such as wildland forest fires, are to utilize expensive, thermopile-based sensors, coupled with mathematical models based on a semi-infinite length-scale. While these sensors are acceptable for experimental testing in laboratories, high errors, or the need for water-cooling limits their applications in field experiments. Therefore, a one-dimensional, finite-length scale, transient heat conduction model was developed and combined with an inexpensive, thermocouple-based rectangular sensor to create a rapidly deployable, non-cooled sensor for testing in field environments. The proposed model was developed using concepts from heat conduction and with transient temperature boundary conditions, to avoid complicated radiation and convection conditions. Constant heat flux and tree burning tests were conducted using a mass loss cone calorimeter and a propane-fired radiant panel, respectively, to validate the proposed analytical model and sensor as well as test the sensor in a simulated forest fire setting. The sensor was mounted directly beside a commercial Schmidt-Boelter gauge to provide data for comparison. The proposed heat flux measurement method provided results similar to those obtained from the commercial heat flux gauge to within one standard deviation. This suggests that the use of a finite-length scale model, coupled with an inexpensive thermocouple-based sensor, is effective in estimating the intense heat loads from wildland fires.

WF14016  Accepted 27 April 2014
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