Fire Technology

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 211–232 | Cite as

Air Curtains Combined with Smoke Exhaust for Smoke Control in Case of Fire: Full-Size Experiments

  • João Carlos ViegasEmail author
  • Hildebrando Cruz


This paper analyses the possibility of using air curtains to prevent smoke flow from fire compartments. Full size experiments have been carried out and several relevant conditions to assess smoke-tightness have been tested. The smoke temperature during the tests was ranging from 182°C to 351°C, the angle measured between the curtain axis and the vertical plane was ranging from 18° and 26°, the nozzle thickness was ranging from 0.017 m to 0.045 m and the velocity at the nozzle was ranging from 8.3 m/s to 19.9 m/s. During the tests, the air curtain’s nozzle was positioned horizontally at the top of a permanent opening (door). With this configuration, we obtained an approximately vertical downward jet through the used opening. This paper includes the final results of the tests and develops an analytical tool for predicting the performance of air curtains. It was concluded that it is possible to achieve smoke-tightness, provided that the adequate plane jet parameters and the compartment’s smoke exhaust are correctly adjusted. According to this analysis, the smoke-tightness limit corresponds to equation \( B = \Delta {\text{P}}_{\text{a}} /\Delta {\text{P}}_{\text{s}} = - 0.30 \,u_{a} /u_{a\_min} + 1.25 \) (with \( 1.30 \le u_{a} /u_{a\_min} \le 1.67 \)).


Smoke control Plane jets Full size experiments Vertical air curtains 

List of symbols

\( {\text{b}}_{0} \)

Thickness of the jet nozzle (the smallest side of the rectangular shaped nozzle)

\( {\text{B}} \)

Non-dimensional proportionality value assessed by experiments

\( C \)

Non-dimensional proportionality value assessed by experiments

\( \overline{{{\text{C}}_{\text{p}} }} \)

Average specific heat at constant pressure

\( {\text{C}}_{{{\text{p}}0}} \)

Specific heat at constant pressure at temperature \( {\text{T}}_{0} \)

\( {\text{C}}_{{{\text{p}}1}} \)

Specific heat at constant pressure at temperature T1

\( {\text{D}}_{\text{m}} \)

Deflection modulus


Gravity acceleration


Soffit height above the neutral plane


Full height of the door

\( {\dot{\text{m}}} \)

Mass flow rate in the plume at height z

\( {\dot{\text{M}}}_{{\text{exaust}}} \)

Exhaust mass flow rate

\( \dot{Q}^{{}} \)

Heat release rate

\( {\dot{\text{Q}}}_{\text{c}} \)

Exhaust convective part of the heat release rate

\( {\text{T}}_{0} \)

Initial temperature


Smoke temperature

\( {\bar{\text{T}}}_{\text{smoke}} \)

Measured smoke temperature

\( {\text{u}}_{\text{a}}^{{}} \)

Average horizontal component of the velocity through the door

\( {\text{u}}_{{{\text{a}}\_{ \hbox{min} }}} \)

Minimum average velocity at the door given by Eq. (7)

\( {\text{u}}_{0}^{{}} \)

Initial jet velocity

\( U\left( {\dot{Q}} \right) \)

Standard uncertainty of heat release rate

\( {\dot{\text{V}}}_{\text{door}} \)

Volume flow rate at the door

\( {\dot{\text{V}}}_{{\text{exaust}}} \)

Exhaust volume flow rate

\( {\dot{\text{V}}}_{\text{jet}} \)

Volume flow rate of the plane jet


Door width


Length of the jet


Interface height

\( {\text{z}}_{1} \)

Flame height

\( \propto_{0} \)

Angle measured between the curtain axis and the vertical plane

\( \Delta {\text{P}}_{\text{s}} \)

Pressure difference due to the difference in fluid density between the interior and exterior

\( \Delta {\text{P}}_{\text{a}} \)

Pressure difference due to momentum

\( \uprho_{0} \)

Outdoor density

\( \uprho_{1} \)

Indoor density

\( {\bar{\rho }}_{\text{smoke}} \)

Average smoke density



This research was partially funded by ADI – Agência de Inovação, under Grant QREN no. 23226 (Smoke Shield), through Operational Competitiveness Programme (COMPETE), as part of the National Strategic Reference Framework.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Laboratory for Civil EngineeringLisbonPortugal

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