Experimental study on the smoke temperature evolution in a polyethylene (PE)-lined compartment on fire

  • Junhui GongEmail author
  • Di Wang
  • Long Shi
  • Xuanya LiuEmail author
  • Ye Chen
  • Guomin Zhang


Smoke temperature evolution in the upper layer of compartment fire, which is critical for the prediction of potential flashover, was experimentally investigated in a real building. Three-millimeter polyethylene (PE) slabs attached on the internal walls were employed as the lining material to address the effect of the melting and combustion of the lining material on the smoke temperature. A corner gasoline pool fire was utilized as the fire source. Two thermocouple trees, mounted vertically at the center and the open door, and a high-definition camera were utilized to record the smoke temperature history and experimental video. Meanwhile, some furniture was loaded to study its enhancement feature on fire intensity. Heat release rates (HRRs) at different stages were analyzed based on MQH method (McCaffrey, Quintiere and Harkleroad) and pool fire theory. Smoke temperature was estimated through an improved MQH correlation considering the melting of the PE slabs and an empirical model, BFD curve (Barnett in Fire Saf J 37: 437–463, 2002) combined. The results show that both the maximum HRR and smoke temperature, 925.91 kW and 491.7 °C, are lower than the critical values of flashover. The PE lining greatly intensifies the fire power and the resulting smoke temperature compared with the ones in noncombustible wall scenario. Combustion of the molten PE flowing down from the walls would lead to a secondary peak in smoke temperature curve, which is rarely considered in previous work.


Smoke temperature Full-scale compartment fire PE slabs Heat release rate Pool fire 

List of symbols


Area (m2)


Specific heat (Jg−1K−1)


Diameter of fuel pan (m)


Total fire load (J)


Entrainment factor

\(F_{{{\text{O}}_{ 2} }}\)

Opening factor (m1.5)


Gravitational acceleration (m s−2)


Effective heat transfer coefficient (W m−1 K−1)


Height (m)

\(\Delta H\)

Effective heat of combustion (J g−1)


Heat release rate (J s−1)


Thermal conductivity (W m−1 K−1)


Burning rate (g m−2 s−1)


Heat loss (W)


Shape constant


Time (s)


Temperature (K)


Width (m)


Fuel burning velocity (m s−1)


Elevation above the virtual source (m)


Virtual source location (m)

Greek symbols


Thickness (m)


Inverse opening factor (m0.5)

\(\kappa \beta\)

Radiative extinction coefficient (m−1)


Density (g m−3)


Fire load parameter (g m−2)









Critical value




Effective value








Maximum value






Pool fire







Infinite condition


Ambient condition



This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (51974164), The Open Fund of the Key Laboratory of Building Fire Protection Engineering and Technology of MPS (KFKT2016ZD06) and University Natural Science Research Project in Jiangsu Province (17KJA620003). The authors gratefully appreciate all these supports.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Safety Science and EngineeringNanjing Tech UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Building Fire Protection Engineering and Technology of MPSTianjinChina
  3. 3.Department of Fire Protection EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Civil and Infrastructure Engineering Discipline, School of EngineeringRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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