Downward flame spread over a thick PMMA slab in an opposed flow environment: Experiment and modeling

K. K. Wu, W. F. Fan, Chiun-Hsun Chen*, T. M. Liou, I. J. Pan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This work investigates experimentally and theoretically the downward spread of a flame over a thick polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) slab with an opposed flow of air. Simulation results, using an unsteady combustion model with mixed convection, indicate that the ignition delay time increases with a decreasing opposed-flow temperature or increasing velocity. The ignition delay time is nearly constant at a low opposed flow velocity, i.e., u ≤ 30 cm/s. Experiments were conducted at three different opposed flow temperatures and velocities, namely, Ti = 313, 333, and 353 K and u= 40, 70, and 100 cm/s, respectively. Measurements included the flame-spread rate and temperature distributions, using thermocouples and laser-holographic interferometry. The qualitative trends of the flame-spread rate and thermal boundary layer thickness, as obtained experimentally and from numerical predictions, were identical. For a quantitative comparison, the predicted and experimental flame-spread rates correlated well with each other, except at the lowest velocity (u = 40 cm/s). The discrepancies between the measured and predicted thermal boundary layer thicknesses decreased with an increasing flow velocity. The quantitative agreement with a high velocity indicates that the spread of an opposed flame is mainly controlled by the flame front, whereas the discrepancies at low flow rates demonstrate the importance of radiation, the finite length of the fuel, and also three-dimensional effects, which were not considered in the model. The temperature profiles around the flame front measured by interferometric photographs indicate a recirculation flow there, as predicted by the simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-707
Number of pages11
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2003


  • Flame spread
  • Opposed flow temperature
  • Opposed flow velocity

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