Faculty Advisor

N.A. Dembsey

Faculty Advisor

S. Shivkumar

Faculty Advisor

A. Simeoni

Faculty Advisor

K.A. Notarianni


"This dissertation documents a study on parameter estimation methods for comprehensive pyrolysis modeling. There are four parts to this work, which are (1) evaluating effects of applying different kinetic models to pyrolysis modeling of fiberglass reinforced polymer composites; (2); evaluation of pyrolysis parameters for fiberglass reinforced polymer composites based on multi-objective optimization; (3) parameter estimation for comprehensive pyrolysis modeling: guidance and critical observations; and (4) engineering guide for estimating material pyrolysis properties for fire modeling. In the first section (Section 1), evaluation work is conducted to determine the effects of applying different kinetic models (KMs), developed based on thermal analysis using TGA data, when used in typical 1D pyrolysis models of fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP) composites. The study shows that that increasing complexity of KMs to be used in pyrolysis modeling is unnecessary for the FRP samples investigated. Additionally, the findings from this research indicates that the basic assumption of considering thermal decomposition of each computational cell in comprehensive pyrolysis modeling as equivalent to that in a TGA experiment becomes inapplicable at depth and higher heating rates. The second part of this dissertation (Section 2) reports the results from a study conducted to investigate the ability of global, multi-objective and multi-variable optimization methods to estimate material parameters for comprehensive pyrolysis models. The research materials are two fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP) composites that share the same fiberglass mats but with two different resin systems. One resin system is composed of a single component and the other system is composed of two components (resin and fire retardant additive). The results show that for a well-configured parameter estimation exercise using the optimization method described above, (1) estimated results are within ± 100% of the measurements in general; (2) increasing complexity of the kinetic modeling for a single component system has insignificant effect on estimated values; (3) increasing complexity of the kinetic modeling for a multiple component system with each element having different thermal characteristics has positive effect on estimated values; and (4) parameter estimation using an optimization method with appropriate level of complexity in kinetic model and optimization targets can find estimations that can be considered as effective material property values. The third part of this dissertation (Section 3) proposes a process for conducting parameter estimation for comprehensive pyrolysis models. The work describes the underlying concepts considered in the proposed process and gives discussions of its limitations. Additionally, example cases of parameter estimation exercise are shown to illustrate the application of the parameter estimation process. There are four materials considered in the example cases – thermoplastics (PMMA), corrugated cardboard, fiberglass reinforced polymer composites and plywood. In the last part (Section 4), the actual Guide, a standardized procedure for obtaining material parameters for input into a wide range of pyrolysis models is presented. This is a step-by-step process that provides a brief description of modeling approaches and assumptions; a typical mathematical formulation to identify model parameters in the equations; and methods of estimating the model parameters either by independent measurements or optimization in pair with the model. In the Guide, example cases are given to show how the process can be applied to different types of real-world materials. "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





parameter estimation, comprehensive pyrolysis model