Identifier

etd-042612-112043

Abstract

Due to continued outward expansion of industry and community development into the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the threat to life safety and property from wildland fires has become a significant problem. Such fire scenarios can be better understood through the use of computation fluid dynamics based fire-spread models. However, current physical fire models must be specifically adapted to handle the phenomena associated with WUI fires. Only then can they be reliably used as research and decision making tools to help mitigate the problem. In this research, the current standard in wildland fire modeling for representing the effect on wind flow from a porous vegetative medium is examined. The technique used employs basic correlations for object drag, and its validity with respect to real vegetation has yet to be examined in detail by the scientific community. The modeling of vegetation is studied within the framework of the existing Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS), and the potential need for continued development is assessed. Comparisons are made to both experimental and numerical studies. Additionally, the validity of the model is considered at both the scale of an individual tree, as well as that of a whole forest canopy. Results show that as a first approximation the model is able to perform well in the latter case. At the scale of an individual tree, however, the behavior is governed by theoretical constants. The assumption of cylindrical vegetation elements performs slightly better than the commonly used spherical case, but neither adequately captures experimental tendencies. Accurate flow representation for single trees is crucial to modeling the key driving factors of fire behavior (such as combustion and heat transfer) in small scale WUI scenarios. Ultimately, this study illustrates the need for well-designed experiments, specifically to generate empirical constants which will improve the behavior of the simplified theory.

Publisher

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name

MS

Department

Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type

Thesis

Date Accepted

2012-04-26

Accessibility

Unrestricted

Subjects

vegetation, wind, les, cfd, wildland fires, drag force

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