Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Nicholas A. Dembsey, Advisor


John L. de Ris, Robert Bill




Traditional probability and statistics methodologies recommended by ISO and NIST were applied to standardize measurement uncertainty analysis on calorimetry bench scale apparatuses. The analysis was conducted for each component instrument (direct measurement) and each related physics quantity measured indirectly. There were many sources contributing to the ultimate uncertainty, however, initially, we dealt with the intrinsic uncertainty of each measuring instrument and the uncertainty from calibration. All other sources of uncertainty, i.e., drift, data acquisition, data reduction (round off, truncation, and curve smoothing) and personal operation were assumed to be negligible. Results were expressed as an interval having 95% confidence that the ¡°true¡± value would fall within. A Monte Carlo Simulation technique with sampling size of 10000 was conducted to model the experiments. It showed that at least 95% of the modeled experiment results were inside the estimate interval. The consistency validated our analysis method. An important characteristic of composite material systems is the ability to ¡°custom design¡± the system to meet performance criteria such as cost, durability, strength and / or reaction to fire. To determine whether a new system is an improvement over previous ones and can meet required performance criteria, sufficiently accurate and precise instruments are needed to measure the system¡¯s material properties in bench scale testing. Commonly used bench scale apparatuses are the cone calorimeter (Cone) and the FMGR fire propagation apparatus (FPA). For this thesis, thermally ¡°thin¡± and ¡°thick¡± specimens of a natural composite, red oak, were tested in the Cone in an air environment and in the FPA in a nitrogen environment. Cone test data of two FRP composite systems from the previous work of Alston are also considered. The material reaction to fire properties were estimated considering both ignition and pyrolysis measurements made via the Cone and FPA. Investigation of the ultimate uncertainty of these material fire properties based on the intrinsic uncertainty of the component instruments (e.g. load cell) as well as the uncertainty introduced via use of a current ignition and pyrolysis model are considered.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





measurement uncertainty, composite properties, Calorimetry, Cone calorimeters, Composite materials, Fire testing, Fire testing, Measurement