What is flashover anyway?

The students in Prof. Stoliarov’s ENFP620 Fire Dynamics Laboratory class performed an impressive flashover experiment to find out for themselves.

The students designed a small room (1.8 m X 1.5 m X 1.5 m) along with state-of-the-art fire instrumentation, which included a load cell (for burning rate), velocity probes (for ventilation rate), heat flux gauges, thermocouples, a computer-based data acquisition system, and lots of cameras! They placed steel pans (0.3 m – 0.5 m dia) in the center of the room filled with heptane (0.6 L – 1.8 L).

We saw clear indications of flashover where the fire behavior transitioned from the ‘fire-in-room condition’ to the ‘room-on-fire condition’. Take a look at the photos and video below. The students measured a steep increase in the fuel burning rate when the room temperatures rose in excess of 600 deg. C corresponding to flashover transition.

Now we know!


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