Flame spread and extinction phenomena over a thick PMMA in purely opposed and concurrent flows are investigated by conducting systematical experiments in a narrow channel apparatus. The present tests focus on low-velocity flow regime and hence complement experimental data previously reported for high and moderate velocity regimes. In the flow velocity range tested, the opposed flame is found to spread much faster than the concurrent flame at a given flow velocity. The measured spread rates for opposed and concurrent flames can be correlated by corresponding theoretical models of flame spread, indicating that existing models capture the main mechanisms controlling the flame spread. In low-velocity gas flows, however, the experimental results are observed to deviate from theoretical predictions. This may be attributed to the neglect of radiative heat loss in the theoretical models, whereas radiation becomes important for low-intensity flame spread. Flammability limits using oxygen concentration and flow velocity as coordinates are presented for both opposed and concurrent flame spread configurations. It is found that concurrent spread has a wider flammable range than opposed case. Beyond the flammability boundary of opposed spread, there is an additional flammable area for concurrent spread, where the spreading flame is sustainable in concurrent mode only. The lowest oxygen concentration allowing concurrent flame spread in forced flow is estimated to be approximately 14 % O-2, substantially below that for opposed spread (18.5 % O-2).
This work is funded by the Strategic Pioneer Program on Space Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, under grant No. XDA04020410. The authors thank Mr. Suide Wang for his assistance in conducting the experiments.