Thermal Analysis and Cone Calorimeter Study of Engineered Wood with an Emphasis on Fire Modelling

  • Jiří IraEmail author
  • Lucie Hasalová
  • Vojtěch Šálek
  • Milan Jahoda
  • Václav Vystrčil


Engineered wood products (EWPs) are a group of materials having a very similar chemical composition but having different and non-uniform thermo-physical properties throughout their thickness. Such materials present a significant challenge from the pyrolysis modelling point of view. The main focus of the paper is to study and compare the differences between six EWPs—oriented strand board (OSB), plywood, particle board (PB), low-density (LDF), medium-density (MDF) and high-density (HDF) fibreboard—in terms of their pyrolysis and burning behaviour. Vertical density profiles (VDPs), thermal degradation behaviour, and burning behaviour were studied and compared. There is a considerable need for a consistent and systematic approach in estimating pyrolysis model complexity and model input parameters. A systematic method to determine the minimum level of the EWPs decomposition model complexity to reproduce the thermal degradation behaviour as measured using thermogravimetric analysis and using the set of parallel reactions was applied. EWPs were found to have similar thermal decomposition onset and range. Maximal decomposition rates were within 25%. OSB, PB, LDF and HDF decomposition can be modelled using three-step parallel reactions scheme, MDF using four parallel reactions. A set of parallel reactions cannot describe the thermal degradation behaviour of plywood. Cone calorimeter tests at heat flux levels of 20 kW/m2, 50 kW/m2 and \(80\, \hbox {kW}/\hbox {m}^{2}\) revealed that influence of the different thermo-physical properties on time to ignition and time to peak heat release rate (HRR) is not significant except LDF and HDF due to their very different density. Peak HRR varies between EWPs, which is attributed primarily to charring and different thermo-physical properties of the EWPs char. EWPs gas phase combustion parameters for the fire models were derived.


Engineered wood Density profile Thermogravimetric analysis Kinetic parameters Cone calorimetry 

List of Symbols



Pre-exponential factor (1/s)


Euler number (2.71828)


Activation energy (J/mol)

\(\varDelta H_{c}\)

Effective heat of combustion (MJ/kg)


The number of points in data set (–)


Thickness (mm)


Mass (mg)


Reaction order (–)


Total number of reactions (–)


Number of complexes (–)


Reaction rate (1/s)


Universal gas constant (8.314 J/mol/K)


Time (s)


Temperature (K)

\(\varDelta T\)

Pyrolysis range (K)


Mass fraction (–)

Greek Symbols


Conversion (–)


Heating rate (K/s)


Mass loss change (1/s)


Density (\(\hbox {kg}/\hbox {m}^3\))


Stoichiometric coefficient (–)

Superscripts and Subscripts












Initial state



Computational fluid dynamics


Differential scanning calorimetry


Derivative thermogravimetric


Second derivative thermogravimetric


Engineered wood product


Fire dynamics simulator


Fitness value


High-density fibreboard


Heat release rate


Low-density fibreboard


Medium-density fibreboard


Mass loss rate


Ordinary differential equation


Oriented strand board


Particle board




Relative standard deviation


Shuffled complex evolution


Simultaneous thermal analysis


Thermogravimetric analysis


Vertical density profile



The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the Specific University Research (MSMT No 21-SVV/2018) fund of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic. The authors would like to acknowledge financial support by the Czech Science Foundation (project GACR no. 19-22435S).


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Chemistry and Technology, PraguePrague 6, DejviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Technical Institute of Fire Protection in PragueFire Rescue Service of the Czech RepublicPraha 4, ModřanyCzech Republic

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