FSEG LOGO FIRE SAFETY ENGINEERING GROUP The Queen's Anniversary Prize 2002 The British Computer Society IT Awards 2001 The European IST Prize Winner 2003 The Guardian University Awards Winner 2014
The Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities

Development of a Novel Hybrid Field and Zone Fire Model

Dan Burton



This thesis describes the design and implementation of a novel hybrid field/zone fire model, linking a fire field model to a zone model. This novel concept was implemented using SMARTFIRE (a fire field model produced at the University of Greenwich) and two different zone models (CFAST which is produced by NIST and FSEG-ZONE which has been produced by the author during the course of this work). The intention of the hybrid model is to reduce the amount of computation incurred in using field models to simulate multi-compartment geometries, and it will be implemented to allow users to employ the zone component without having to make further technical considerations, in line with the existing paradigm of the SMARTFIRE suite.

In using the hybrid model only the most important or complex parts of the geometry are fully modelled using the field model.  Other suitable and less important parts of the geometry are modelled using the zone model.  From the field model’s perspective the zone model is represented as an accurate pressure boundary condition. From the zone model’s perspective the energy and mass fluxes crossing the interface between the models are seen as point sources.

The models are fully coupled and iterate towards a solution ensuring both global conservation along with conservation between the regions of different computational method. By using this approach a significant proportion of the computational cells can be replaced by a relatively simple zone model, saving computational time. The hybrid model can be used in a wide range of situations but will be especially applicable to large geometries, such as hotels, prisons, factories or ships, where the domain size typically proves to be extremely computationally expensive for treatment using a field model. The capability to model such geometries without the associated mesh overheads could eventually permit simulations to be run in ‘faster-real-time’, allowing the spread of fire and effluents to be modelled, along with a close coupling with evacuation software, to provide a tool not just for research objectives, but to allow real time incident management in emergency situations.

Initial ‘proof of concept’ work began with the development of one way coupling regimes to demonstrate that a valid link between models could allow communication and conservation of the respective variables. This was extended to a two-way coupling regime using the CFAST zone model and results of this implementation are presented. Fundamental differences between the SMARTFIRE and CFAST models resulted in the development of the FSEG-ZONE model to address several issues; this implementation and numerous results are discussed at length. Finally, several additions were made to the FSEG-ZONE model that are necessary for an accurate consideration of fire simulations.

The test cases presented in this thesis show that a good agreement with full-field results can be obtained through use of the hybrid model, while the reduction in computational time realised is approximately equivalent to the percentage of domain cells that are replaced by the zone calculations of the hybrid model.

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