Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Robert G. Zalosh, Advisor


John Woycheese, Hong-Zeng Yu




"The primary purpose of this research was to quantify fire suppression and fire intensification phenomena for water spray application to high flash point hydrocarbon oil pool fires. Test data and analyses of the phenomena include the drop size distribution and application and delivered densities of various water sprays, and spray-induced oil cooling and oil splattering for mineral seal oil and for cooking oil 30-cm diameter pool fires. Four different types of tests were conducted as described below. A Dantec Particle Dynamic, phase Doppler, Analyzer was used to measure the water drop sizes and velocities generated by 13 selected nozzles and sprinkler heads. Most measurements were made 0.91 m (3 ft) below the nozzles/sprinklers, since this was the location of the center of the hydrocarbon pool in later fire tests. The correlations for the volume-median drop diameter, dw, were of the form , where D is the nozzle orifice and is the spray Weber number based on D and the nozzle velocity. A ring burner was designed and constructed for uniformly heating oil pool surfaces from above and igniting them. The resulting oil temperatures while the oil was heated to its flash point satisfied the one-dimensional transient heat conduction model for a semi-infinitely thick solid with a shallow heated layer near the surface. Water sprays actuated when the oil surface temperature reached its flash point rapidly cooled the heated layer and caused mixing with the cooler oil below. Fire suppression tests were conducted to determine the relationship between required water spray density, drop size, and oil temperature in order to achieve suppression. A data correlation using non-dimensional parameters was developed to quantify the fire suppression criteria for the high flash point oil fires. Oil pool fires with the higher flash point oils, such as the 291oC flash point soybean oil, could be suppressed with much lower water densities than those of the lower flash point (137oC) mineral seal oil. However, if the water spray drop sizes are sufficiently small, the lower flash point oil fires can also be extinguished with lower spray densities. The NFPA 15 specified critical water density (0.30 gpm/ft2, 12 mm/min) to extinguish high flash point pool fires is only valid for mineral seal oil when the drop size is lower than about 300 µm. It is valid with larger drop sprays only when the flash point of the oil is higher than 190 according to the correlation developed here. Spray-induced pool fire intensification tests were conducted under a fire products calorimeter for measuring heat release rates. Supplemental oil vaporization rate tests were also conducted to determine the contributions of oil vaporization and oil splattering to the intensified fire. Results showed that vaporization could only account for between 1% and 1.7% of the heat release rate in intensified mineral seal oil fires, and less than 1% of the heat release rate in intensified soybean oil fires. The remainder is due to spray-induced oil splattering, which increased with increasing drop Weber number as well as increased oil temperature. The heat release rate is enhanced by factor from 2.12 to 5.55 compared to the heat release rate of free burning cooking oil. For mineral seal oil, this ratio is in the range 0.92 to 1.25 for the spray conditions tested. Correlations with the dimensionless factors of and the Weber number of the water spray were also developed to quantify the ratio of the splattered oil to applied spray density."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





suppression, drop size, high flash point pool fire, Fire extinction, Fire sprinklers, Petroleum products, Fires and fire prevention, Droplets, Pool fires, Flash point, Water sprays