Osorio Amado, Carmen H (2013-08). Experimental and Computational Study of Flame Inhibition Mechanisms of Halogenated Compounds in C1-C3 Alkanes Flames. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • After the restriction of different halogenated fire suppressants by the Montreal Protocol, there is an urgent need to identify environmentally friendlier alternatives. In particular, several efforts have been conducted to find substitutes of Halon 1301 (CF_(3)Br) which was considered the best in its class, not only because of its superior extinguishing performance, but also due to its relatively low toxicity. Different options have been proposed over the last decade. However, no single compound has been found to meet all of the exigent criteria. Further progress in this research requires fundamental combustion knowledge that can help us understand the unique performance of Halon 1301, to prevent this search from becoming a tedious trial-and-error process.

    To this end, the present work aids in the search of fire suppressants alternatives by improving the flame inhibition mechanism understanding, starting with CF_(3)Br, which serves as a benchmark for new fire suppressants. Then, a case study of two of the most currently used fire suppressants, C_(2)HF_(5) (HFC-125) and C_(2)HF_(7) (HFC-227), is presented and compared with CF_(3)Br performance. For these analyses, a systematic analytical methodology was used to examine the effect of fire suppressants on ignition and laminar flame propagation of C_(1)-C_(3) alkanes premixed mixtures, as good representatives of flammable gas fires (Class B fires). This methodology integrates model formulations and experimental designs in order to examine both chemical kinetics and thermal effects on fire suppressants at different stoichiometric conditions. Modeling predictions were based on a detailed chemical kinetics mechanism which was assembled from a new, well-studied H_(2), C_(0)-C_(5) hydrocarbon mechanism from NUI Galway and recent CF_(3)Br and HFC fire suppressant chemistry from NIST. Experimental study involved the use of a shock tube (for ignition analysis) and a freely expanding flame speed bomb (for laminar flame speed analysis). Most of the experimental data provided in this work are the first measurements of their kind for the compounds and mixtures explored in this thesis. These measurements are extremely valuable since they can be used as a metric for model validation which represents one of the objectives of this work.

    Current analyses indicate that the combustion properties of halogenated compounds cannot be generalized and depends on different factors. On one hand, the presented results showed that all the tested fire suppressants can decrease the laminar flame speed of the examined C_(1)-C_(3)alkanes premixed flames; however, in some cases they can act as ignition promoters. In order to understand these behaviors, sensitivity analyses were conducted showing that halogenated species, resulting from the fire suppressants decomposition, can participate in both promoting and inhibiting reactions that compete to give a net effect. Identification of the key reaction responsible for such effects was conducted. Then, improvements on the fire suppressant chemistry can be done by modifying the corresponding Arrhenius parameters of such important reactions. This work not only provides fundamental knowledge of halogenated flame inhibition mechanisms, but also serves as the basis for more accurate chemical kinetics mechanisms that can be used for better predictions over a wide range of conditions.

publication date

  • August 2013