Infrared technology for measuring the effect of fire on materials

December 19, 2011
Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid are developing an infrared measuring method to analyze the thermal properties and resistance to fire of composite materials. This advance would have applications in aerospace engineering and other areas where fire safety requires that the “composite” materials withstand high temperatures. Credit: UC3M

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid are developing an infrared measuring method to analyze the thermal properties and resistance to fire of composite materials. This advance would have applications in aerospace engineering and other areas where fire safety requires that the "composite" materials withstand high temperatures.

The main problem associated with measuring the effects of fire on materials lies in the temperature of the flames, which reaches over 1000 C and can obscure the actual temperature of the material. In addition, there is the problem of the high of gasses (CO2, H2O and others), which makes it difficult to obtain clear images of the sample being subjected to fire. In order to solve this problem, the UC3M scientists who developed this method used a measurement that utilizes the . "To do this, we had to use an , properly set, spectrally, for measuring the temperature, as well as that allowed us to determine the measurement, discounting the flame's fanning effects", explains one of the authors, Fernando López, a tenured professor in the Physics Department at UC3M.

This research, which was carried out in collaboration with the Airbus Systems Laboratory, and which has been published in the journal Measurement Science and Technology, has applications in the aeronautical industry, where it is essential to know what effects fire will have on the (fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc.) that are used in airplanes. Moreover, this method could be applied in other sectors where a material's resistance to fire is crucial, such as in rail and land transport or fire protection in housing.

The advantage of using this method of measurement is that it can be done without any direct contact with the material, almost instantly (in milliseconds) and under severe conditions (when flames are present), where other systems of measurement cannot be used, the researchers explain. The professor states that, "The main objective is to quickly and precisely measure the real temperature of the sample over the entire surface, including the part that is hidden by the flames, and to do this from a distance." And he adds, "All of this, as a function of time, and taking into consideration the rise and fall of the temperature over time."

Another line of investigation currently being developed by these scientists from the Laboratorio del Infrarrojo (LIR – Infrared Laboratory) at the UC3M is one that allows them to measure, from a distance, the thermodynamic parameters of materials (emissivity and diffusivity, coefficients of conductivity and specific heat), by means of an infrared analysis of the image. In addition, they are studying ways in which to use their ability to detect hidden subsurface defects that can be generated by fire or other causes.

Measuring temperatures in the presence of flames that are "dirty" based on their subproducts, includes a strong infrared component of absorption and emission that must be discounted in a very precise manner, according to the researchers. This technology falls within the spectral methods, which the LIR-UC3M specializes in, that is, those that are based on properties that depend on the wavelength.

Explore further: Polymer composite provides better fire protection than steel

More information: Infrared thermography of solid surfaces in a fire, Meléndez, J.; Foronda, A.; Aranda, J. M.; López, F.; López del Cerro, F. J. Measurement Science & Technology 21 (10): Art. No. 105504 OCT 2010 ISSN: 0957-0233

Related Stories

Polymer composite provides better fire protection than steel

March 27, 2006

The U.S. Navy needs lighter materials so ships will go further faster. One way to do that is to use new composite materials. But how will these materials respond to fire -- one of the most critical safety concerns on a ship? ...

ESA satellite assesses damage of Norway's largest fire

June 27, 2008

Following the extremely hot weather conditions hitting Europe, Norway experienced its biggest forest fire in the last half century earlier this month. Envisat satellite images were used in the fire's aftermath to get an overview ...

Baked Slug: New Method to Test Fireproofing Material

October 2, 2008

In a high-temperature blaze, how well does a fireproofing material shield a building’s important steel structures from heat? Answering this question has been surprisingly difficult, but it is important information for builders ...

Research improves the bolted joints in airplanes

June 13, 2011

A research project at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid that analyzes the bolted joints used in the aeronautical industry has determined the optimum force that should be applied so that they may better withstand the variations ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.