Fire Technology

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 967–982 | Cite as

The Effect of Boundary Layer on Blow-Off Extinction in Opposed-Flow Flame Spread over Thin Cellulose: Experiments and a Simplified Analysis

  • Luca Carmignani
  • Greg Celniker
  • Subrata Bhattacharjee


Study of flame spread plays a crucial role in our understanding of fires with direct implications to fire safety. Flame-spread in an opposing flow configuration and relative blow-off extinction in the kinetic regime have been studied for the last few decades. It is known that the extinction velocity is related to the Damköhler number, the ratio of residence time to the combustion time at the flame leading edge. It is also well known that the behavior of the flame is affected by the presence of the boundary layer. However, there is no experimental evidence in literature to quantify the boundary layer effect. In this work we experimentally establish the effect of boundary layer development length on the extinction velocity, opposed flow velocity of the oxidizer at which the blow-off extinction occurs, for flame spread over thin fuels. Using a vertical combustion tunnel, a large number of downward flame spread experiments over thin ashless filter paper are conducted for an opposed flow velocity range of 40 cm/s to 100 cm/s. The extinction length, the distance from the sample leading edge at which the blow-off extinction occurs, is shown to be directly related to the opposing flow velocity. A correlation between the two based on scaling analysis and on an empirical law reveals that blow-off extinction occurs at a constant effective velocity. This simple conclusion can have implications in future refinement of Damköhler number correlations for blow-off extinction.


Flame-spread Flame spread rate measurements Downward flame spread Boundary layer 



Gas-phase diffusion length scale, m


Reynolds number


Prandtl number


Development length


Fuel mass fraction


Oxidizer mass fraction


Activation energy, MJ/kmol


Adiabatic flame temperature, K


Vaporization temperature, K


Pre-exponential factor


Opposing velocity of the oxidizer, m/s


Absolute spread rate, m/s


Opposing flow velocity, m/s


Effective velocity inside the boundary layer, m/s

Greek Symbols


Thermal diffusivity of gas, evaluated at T v , m2/s


Kinematic viscosity of gas, m2/s

\( \dot{\varpi }^{\prime\prime\prime}_{F} \)

Rate of fuel consumption, kg/s


Gas density evaluated at T v , kg/m3









Gas phase




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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