Slope is among the most influencing factor affecting the spread of wildfires. A contribution to the understanding of the fluid dynamics of a fire spreading in these terrain conditions is provided in the present paper. Coupled optical diagnostics are used to study the slope effects on the flow induced by a fire at laboratory scale. Optical diagnostics consist of particle image velocimetry, for investigating the 2D (vertical) velocity field of the reacting flow and chemiluminescence imaging, for visualizing the region of spontaneous emission of OH radical occurring during gaseous combustion processes. The coupling of these two techniques allows locating accurately the contour of the reaction zone within the computed velocity field. The series of experiments are performed across a bed of vegetative fuel, under both no-slope and 30° upslope conditions. The increase in the rate of fire spread with increasing slope is attributed to a significant change in fluid dynamics surrounding the flame. For horizontal fire spread, flame fronts exhibit quasi-vertical plume resulting in the buoyancy forces generated by the fire. These buoyancy effects induce an influx of ambient fresh air which is entrained laterally into the fire, equitably from both sides. For upward flame spread, the induced flow is strongly influenced by air entrainment on the burnt side of the fire and fire plume is tilted toward unburned vegetation. A particular attention is paid to the induced air flow ahead of the spreading flame. With increasing the slope angle beyond a threshold, highly dangerous conditions arise because this configuration induces wind blows away from the fire rather than toward it, suggesting the presence of convective heat transfers ahead of the fire front.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 18, 2014
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