The role of heat flux in an idealised firebreak built in surface and crown fires

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Khan, Nazmul ORCID: 0000-0001-8483-7171 and Moinuddin, Khalid ORCID: 0000-0002-1831-6754 (2021) The role of heat flux in an idealised firebreak built in surface and crown fires. Atmosphere, 12 (11). ISSN 2073-4433


The disruptions to wildland fires, such as firebreaks, roads and rivers, can limit the spread of wildfire propagating through surface or crown fire. A large forest can be separated into different zones by carefully constructing firebreaks through modification of vegetation in firebreak regions. However, the wildland fire behaviour can be unpredictable due to the presence of either wind‐ or buoyancy‐driven flow in the fire. In this study, we aim to test the efficacy of an idealised firebreak constructed by unburned vegetation. The physics‐based large eddy simulation (LES) simulation is conducted using Wildland–urban interface Fire Dynamic Simulator (WFDS). We have carefully chosen different wind velocities with low to high values, 2.5~12.5 m/s, so the different fire behaviours can be studied. The behaviour of surface fire is studied by Australian grassland vegetation, while the crown fire is represented by placing cone‐shaped trees with grass underneath. With varying velocity and vegetation, four values of firebreak widths (Lc), ranging from 5~20 m, is tested for successful break distance needed for the firebreak. For each failure or successful firebreak width, we have assessed the characteristics of fire intensity, mechanism of heat transfer, heat flux, and surface temperature. It was found that with the inclusion of forest trees, the heat release rate (HRR) increased substantially due to greater amount of fuel involved. The non‐dimensional Byram’s convective number (NC) was calculated, which justifies simulated heat flux and fire characteristics. For each case, HRR, total heat fluxes, total preheat flux, total preheat radiation and convective heat flux, surface temperature and fire propagation mode are presented in the details. Some threshold heat flux was observed on the far side of the firebreak and further studies are needed to identify them conclusively.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.3390/atmos12111395
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4004 Chemical engineering
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4012 Fluid mechanics and thermal engineering
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords disruption to wildfires, firebreaks, surface fires, crown fires, unburned vegetation, large eddy simulation, LES
Citations in Scopus 2 - View on Scopus
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