Whirlwinds that occur downwind of a fire area were experimentally studied using flow visualization techniques and laser doppler velocimetry. Two types of experiments were performed. First, the effect of the complicated flow near the ground on the formation of whirlwinds downwind of a flame was investigated using an ethanol flame on a circular thin ceramic plate held in the middle of the test section of a wind tunnel using thin wires. It was demonstrated that the formation of whirlwinds downwind of the flame requires a floor beneath the flame. Secondly, the effects of cross-flow velocity and flame flickering on the characteristics of whirlwinds were investigated using the diffusion flame which was produced by injecting methane gas from a 30-mm diameter circular porous plate surface placed flush with the floor at a flow rate of 4.0 L/min into a cross-flow. The measured shedding frequency of the whirlwinds increased with increasing cross-flow velocity ranging from 0.13 to 0.37 m/s, corresponding to a Reynolds number from 262 to 727. The Strouhal number ranged from 0.05 to 0.42, which is much wider than the range of a Karman vortex wake in flow past a circular cylinder or of a jet wake in a cross-flow. The measured flame flickering frequency in the cross-flow ranged from 6.6 to 9.6 Hz and did not coincide with the whirlwind shedding frequency, which ranged from 0.3 to 4.2 Hz. The flickering frequency increased suddenly in a discontinuous manner at a cross-flow velocity of 0.28 m/s ; this also did not coincide with the dependence of the whirlwind shedding frequency on the cross-flow velocity. The measured maximum tangential wind velocity of whirlwinds was almost constant at a cross-flow velocity ranging from 0.13 to 0.22 m/s.
To achieve the fire resistant wooden structure, we have proposed the wooden structural members(column and beam) composed of three layers,"load-bearing part, self-charring-stop layer, and surface layer". A high-density wood or a high heat capacity material for a self-charring-stop layer is sandwiched between a load-bearing part and a surface layer. Since these materials absorb heat from surface layer, self-extinguishment can be expected. In this paper, we performed a series of experimentations for the wooden structural members consist of three layers, made of Japanese cedar. It is well known that a Japanese cedar is one of the lowest fire resistant timber materials among the woods. The test specimens are composed of Japanese cedar for load-bearing part and surface layer, and mortar for self-charring-stop layer. Mortar pieces are arranged mutually with cedar in the self-charring-stop layer. One-hour fire resistant tests under loading for 3 column specimens and 3 beam ones show good self-charring-stop behaviors, we were convinced the effect of installing mortar pieces in the wooden structural members.
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