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Combustion Lab Class

This is a syllabus for a potential laboratory class.  The goal of the class is to combine theory with practice and have students work on calculations about the experiments they perform in the lab.

Class Description

The combustion lab class combines small scale experimentation with in class lectures to bridge the gap between theory and real life.  Students will be taught laboratory safety, theory, and experimental techniques.  Students will perform experiments ranging from basic ignition, burning, and extinction to explosions, burning velocity, and generating fire patterns.  This is a one semester class consisting of 14 three hour classes with six in class lectures and 8 laboratory classes.  Laboratory classes generally consist of 1 hour of experimentation and 2 hours to work on data analysis tasks (DATs).  The class is broken down into three groups with each group doing experiments for one of the three class hours at a time.

Learning Objectives

Students will learn the importance of laboratory safety.
Students will learn how to apply their basic fire science knowledge to a combustion problem.
Students will learn how to use instrumentation used in fire testing.
Students will gain an appreciation for how fire behaves in the small scale.
Students will gain an appreciation for how basic fire patterns are formed.
Students will learn how to work as a team to accomplish an objective and analyze the data produced.
Students will learn how to present reports as a group.

Grading breakdown

30% Participation (grade recommended by group members but determined by instructor)
50% Weekly experimental data analysis from laboratory experiments
20% Project

Lab experiments will not be redone if missed.  If the student has a valid reason for missing class, the work may be made up by doing the data analysis and presenting the analysis to the class in the next lecture ( 10 minute PowerPoint presentation or equivalent), if multiple people miss class they will do a group presentation with each contributing an equal amount.

Unless otherwise specified, homework is due at the beginning of the next class.

Class 1:Introduction to Research

Laboratory Safety
    - college lab safety video
    - special concerns in a combustion lab
    - proper attire

Laboratory Etiquette

Basic process of Experimentation
Scientific Method
Reasons for doing a research project
    - advance science
    - investigate an incident
    - make money by creating product or bettering service

Homework: Fill out forms to work in the lab, do lab familiarization tour in groups of 3. Get safety glasses,

Class 2: Fundamentals Lab

Fundamentals Lab: basics of ignition, burning, and extinction

Homework: Analyze data from lab

Class 3: Instrumentation Lecture

Discuss Instrumentation:
    - thermocouple
        - how to measure/estimate flame temperature
    - thin skin calorimeter
    - Laser Doppler anemometer (LDA)
    - oxygen consumption calorimetry
    - Shadow graph
    - Vane anemometer
    - Digital single reflective lens (DSLR) camera & lenses
        - zoom lens, macro lens
        - shutter speed, aperture
        - filters
        - frames per second (fps)
    - High Speed Camera
    - Digital Video Camera
    - Digital Scale
    - Data acquisition systems (hardware)
    - Data acquisition software
    - Bi-directional probe (BDP)
    - flow meters
    - mass flow controllers
    - introduction to labview

Effects of lab environment
Instrument Uncertainty

Homework: Calculations from various instruments, Fill out short form describing carboard burn test experiment for next class.

Class 4: Cardboard Lab

Cardboard burn tests
    - effect of orientation
        - upward vs downward vs horizontal flame spread
        - upward flame spread at different angles to the horizon
    - effect of internal support orientation
    - effect of scaling
    - opposed flow flame spread

Measuring burning rate, rate of flame movement
Writing down general observations

Homework: Analyze lab data

Class 5: Project assignment

Project 1 assignment:
    - Each group will pick a different instrument and write a report and make a 15 min presentation detailing how/when/and why the instrument is used.
    - Each group must practice their presentation in front of another group at-least one time before presenting to the class, the group being presented to must give the presenting group reviews to turn in with their report.  The reviews will be part of the reviewers project grade.

Homework: Fill out short form for plume temperature and velocity lab, work on project

Class 6: Plume Temperature and Velocity Lab

Measuring Temperature and Velocity of a buoyant plume using thermocouples and LDA or BDP
Use gas burner

Homework: Analyze data, work on project

Class 7: Pool Fire / Explosions Lecture

scaling effects
flash point,
partial pressure/volatility

Pressure generate by explosions
calculate vent area required for box experiments in class 9

Homework: Fill out short form for Pool fire lab, work on project

Class 8: Pool Fire Lab

Pool fires of various fuels and sizes

Burning rate, flame height, flicker rate, flame temperature, Heat release rate

Homework: Analyze test data, Fill out short form for Explosions lab, work on project

Class 9: Explosions Lab

Explosions - confined vs unconfined

Ignite balloons filled various Equivalence ratios of methane and air compared with methane and oxygen

Put balloons inside of open and closed boxes to see effect of pressure build up. 

Compare calculated vent area requirement to vents  put into boxes

Homework: Analyze test data, finish project

Class 10: Group Presentation Day

Project 1 due: Each Group presents to the class.

Homework: Grade each others presentations, each group member will have a filler word counter, timer, etc and give a qualitative review of each presentation.

Class 11: Burning velocity / Smoldering / Fire Pattern Lecture

Basic Fire Patterns
Basics of fire forensics/investigation - origin and cause

Burning velocity
smoldering, self heating
Flame Imaging

Discuss presentations as graded by other groups.

Homework: Fill out short form for burning velocity lab

Class 12: Burning Velocity Lab

Burning velocity
measure burning velocity of dust and gas using area method on a Bunsen burner defining gas flow quantities using flow meters
Use visual methods and shadow-graph

Possibly use bubbles of natural gas to measure burning velocity as-well.

Homework: Analyze data, fill out short form for smoldering lab

Class 13: Smoldering Lab

Smoldering, self-heating, thermal inertia / re-ignition

Homework: analyze data, fill out short form for fire pattern lab

Class 14: Fire Pattern Lab

Basic Fire patterns
Burn pattern on wall
Trail of hydrocarbon on floor
carpet burning

Homework: Fill out evaluations


After each lab class 1 group will stay to help clean up ( possibly for extra credit)
Horse play will not be tolerated, at the first unsafe act students will be told to leave the lab and be given a zero for the day.  If the behavior continues they will be removed from the class.
All notes will be printed and bound and be given to the student on the first day.