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Water Mist Extinguishment of Pool Fires: A Parametric Approach
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    INTRODUCTION The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at its Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRC) is interested in the application of water mist sprays to extinguish diesel fie1 fires in underground mine diesel refueling areas. To this end experimental studies have been carried out on the extinguishment of diesel fuel fires at PRL's large enclosed fire suppression facility (FSP) at its Lake Lynn Laboratory (LLL). Two sizes of shallow fuel pans (3x3 ft and 5x7 ft) contained the fires, and a number of commercial mist spray nozzles (at roof locations) and spray/fire locations were tested (52 fires in all). Visual observations of the pool fire extinguishment process by the overhead sprays with an infra-red sensitive videocom suggests that there are two distinct actions involved in extinguishment due to two different transport mechanisms by which the water droplets can enter the fire plume. First, is a direct injection of water droplets into the plume from overhead. This is believed to involve larger water drops and leads to an extinguishment time of several minutes. Second, is an indirect injection process involving small water drops which are entrained in the sideways air flow that feeds oxygen to the fire. This second process apparently leads to relatively fast quenching of the fire in less than 1 minute - a highly useful attribute for a fire protection system. This paper describes a relatively simple parametric model for the indirect water injection process, and defines the critical spray conditions for achieving rapid quenching of the pool fire. While the model is consistent with the pool fire data obtained to date, the PRL studies are continuing with more complex pool fire scenarios. It remains to be seen if this simple parametric approach applies to these future fire tests. THEORETICAL Critical Drop Size In the two-dimensional representation of figure I, an oil pool fire is considered to be a cone whose base is the vaporizing liquid oil surface having an area n?, above which exists a fire plume diffusion flame) of height, L. The rising plume induces a horizontal air flow into the side of the plume supplying the oxygen necessary for propagating gas phase combustion reactions. Water droplets suspended in the air around the plume will tend to follow the horizontal air flows into the plume. The rate of air entrainment by the plume will be determined by the overall combustion reaction which is assumed to be

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