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A Review of Fundamental Combustion Phenomena in Wire Fires

  • Xinyan HuangEmail author
  • Yuji Nakamura
Invited Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Fire Science Reviews

Abstract

Electrical wires and cables have been identified as a potential source of fire in residential buildings, nuclear power plants, aircraft, and spacecraft. This work reviews the recent understandings of the fundamental combustion processes in wire fire over the last three decades. Based on experimental studies using ideal laboratory wires, physical-based theories are proposed to describe the unique wire fire phenomena. The review emphasizes the complex role of the metallic core in the ignition, flame spread, burning, and extinction of wire fire. Moreover, the influence of wire configurations and environmental conditions, such as pressure, oxygen level, and gravity, on wire-fire behaviors are discussed in detail. Finally, the challenges and problems in both the fundamental research, using laboratory wires and numerical simulations, and the applied research, using commercial cables and empirical function approaches, are thoroughly discussed to guide future wire fire research and the design of fire-safe wire and cables.

Keywords

Electrical wire Laboratory wire Cable Insulation and core Fire modelling 

List of Symbols

a

Strain rate (s−1)

A

Cross-section area (mm2)

B

Mass transfer number (–)

Bo

Bond number (–)

c

Specific heat (kJ/kg/K)

d

Diameter (mm)

Da

Damkohler number (–)

E

Activation energy (kJ/mol)

g

Gravity acceleration (m/s2)

G

Thermal conductance (W m/K)

Gr

Grashof number (–)

h

Convection coefficent (W/m2 K)

ΔH

The heat of reaction (MJ/kg)

I

Electrical current (A)

L

External heating length (m)

Nu

Nusselt number (–)

m

Mass (g)

\(\dot{m}\)

Mass-loss rate (kg/s)

\(\dot{m}^{{\prime \prime }}\)

Mass loss flux (kg/m2 s)

n

Index (–)

Mdr

Mass of one drip (mg)

N

Number (–)

P

Perimeter (m) or pressure (Pa)

Pe

Peclet number (–)

\(\dot{q}^{\prime\prime}\)

Heat flux (kW/m2)

r

Radius of wire

R

Universal gas constant (J/mol K)

Re

Electrical resistance (Ω/m)

Vf

Flame-spread rate (mm/s)

t

Time (s)

T

Temperature (°C)

U

Airflow speed (m/s)

W

Flame width (m)

x

Wire axial direction

Y

Mass fraction (%)

Z

Pre-exponential factor (s−1)

Greeks

α

Thermal diffusivity (m2/s)

γ

Surface tension (Pa)

δ

Thickness (mm)

θ

Inclination angle (°)

ρ

Density (kg/m3)

σ

Surface tension (Pa)

λ

Thermal conductivity (W/m K)

Λ

Non-dimensional number (–)

ν

Kinematic viscosity (m2/s)

μ

Dynamic viscosity (Pa s)

φ

Equivalence ratio (–)

χ

Cable classification number (–)

χr

Radiative heat loss fraction (–)

Superscripts

*

Critical

Subscripts

a

Ambient

b

Burning

c

Core

cp

Between core and insulation

dr

Dripping

e

Electrical

f

Flame

F

Fuel

g

Gas

ig

Ignition

J

Joule heat

m

Melting

o

Outer

p

Plastic insulation

py

Pyrolysis

sr

Surface reradiation

Abbreviations

CEMAC

CE MArking of Cables

ETFE

Ethylene-tetrafluorpvco-ethylene

FEP

Fluorinated ethylene propylene

FIGRA

Fire growth rate (W/s)

HRR

Heat release rate (kW)

LOC

Limiting oxygen concentration (%)

NiCr

Nickel–chromium

NPP

Nuclear power plant

NRC

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

PE

Polyethylene

pHRR

Peak heat release rate (MW)

PMMA

Polymethyl methacrylate

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride

SS

Stainless steel

TGA

Thermogravimetric analysis

THR

Total heat release (MJ)

TI

Thermal inertia (kJ2/m4 K2 s)

Notes

Acknowledgements

XH thanks the support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) No. 51876183. YN thanks the support from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (A) # 21681022.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Building Services EngineeringThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringToyohashi University of TechnologyToyohashiJapan

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