Levoglucosan as a Tracer for Smouldering Fire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Detecting fires at an early stage is crucial for mitigating and extinguishing fires. The increased use of biofuels in Northern Europe has led to an increased number of fires in storage facilities. These fires are often caused by self-heating in the interior of the stored materials and slowly develop to smouldering fires. Consequently, these smouldering fires are usually detected several days or weeks after the initial smouldering fire had started. At this point, measures to extinguish the smouldering fire inside the material are difficult as the fire has grown for a long time and is located inside the material. This makes it difficult to gain a successful effect of any extinguishing agents. This paper presents a pilot study in lab scale suggesting levoglucosan as an early tracer for smouldering fires using 600 g cotton as the biomass source. The advantage of detecting levoglucosan as a fire signature is that it serves as a tracer compound for biomass burning and is produced at temperatures of 200–400°C reducing the risk of false alarms from emissions produced at lower temperatures. In this paper, levoglucosan was detected in aerosols emitted in an early stage from smouldering fires and was analyzed by ultrasonic assisted extraction followed by gas chromatographic separation and mass spectrometric detection. First detection of levoglucosan was made in the first sample, collected after 30 min when the smouldering fire was only a few cubic centimeters of the cotton package. In addition, levoglucosan was found in the solid residues of carbonized cotton after the initial smouldering process had moved through the material. The findings should be regarded as screening results to be used for the development of sensors and technology for smouldering fire detection.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Civil Engineering

Keywords

  • Autoignition, Biofuels, Electronic nose, Fire detection, Self-heating, Smoldering fire
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1885
JournalFire Technology
Volume54
Issue number6
Early online date2018 Sep 26
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes