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Thermal radiation poses significant risks. It is important to evaluate its impact.
Thermal radiation from exposure fires can produce very high incident heat fluxes. These heat fluxes can injure building occupants or fire fighters, ignite combustible materials or structures, directly damage structures or vehicles, or damage critical equipment. JENSEN HUGHES’ experienced staff of engineers and scientists have the capability to quantitatively evaluate thermal radiation hazards from exposure fires using state-of-the-art scientific and engineering methods and to develop thermal radiation heat transfer algorithms for use in computer models. Computer models and empirical relationships are both frequently used and each play an important role in the evaluation of the thermal radiation hazards. Our modeling specialists are skilled in the use of heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics simulations with strong radiative coupling and typically provide strong validation bases for the selected analysis methods using published full scale test data. A thermal radiation hazard analysis is often a key component of a performance based life safety assessment or for a structural fire protection evaluation. Thermal radiation hazard evaluations may be performed iteratively to determine a threshold fire size or fuel load or to determine optimum mitigation strategies.
Exposure to Personnel
The thermal radiation heat flux from an exposure fire poses a severe life safety hazard for building occupants, vehicle occupants, and fire fighters. Computer modeling of the heat flux from exposure fires allows the engineer to quantify the severity of the thermal radiation exposure hazard and to develop mitigating strategies to enhance life safety. Computer modeling also allows the engineer to determine the time available for egress from buildings or vehicles such as aircraft and trains, and to estimate the time available before a risk significant area, such as a nuclear power plant control room requires evacuation. At JENSEN HUGHES, we typically make use of empirical heat flux models, heat transfer models, and fire dynamics / CFD to evaluate the heat flux exposure to personnel.
Radiant Ignition of Combustibles
Thermal radiation is a mechanism for a fire to propagate to nearby combustible materials, which can further increase the overall hazard of the fire. Modeling thermal radiation hazards using empirical and fire dynamics / CFD models allows the engineer to predict the potential for fire to propagate to combustible materials and may be used to establish limits on the ignitability or placement of combustible materials in critical areas.
Exposure to Structures
Thermal radiation is a mechanism of fire spread between adjacent structures and thermal radiation from an external fire such as a fuel spill fire or a wildland fire is a mechanism for fire spread into a structure or vehicle. Thermal radiation exposure to critical structural elements may also result in structural damage or collapse. Thermal radiation modeling is used at JENSEN HUGHES to develop protection strategies from exposure fires to adjacent structures or to vehicles and to develop boundary conditions that may be used in a structural fire protection or heat transfer analysis.
High Risk Areas
Thermal radiation hazards can pose serious challenges to high risk areas or targets such as critical control cables in a nuclear power plant. JENSEN HUGHES integrates thermal radiation hazard evaluations when considering the potential effects of a fire in high risk areas, including estimating operator abandonment times and fire damage to critical control equipment.