Volume 6, Issue 6 (June 2009)
A Proposed Qualitative Framework for Heterogeneous Burning of Metallic Materials: The “Melting Rate Triangle”
This paper presents a proposed qualitative framework to discuss the heterogeneous burning of metallic materials, through parameters and factors that influence the melting rate of the solid metallic fuel (either in a standard test or in service). During burning, the melting rate is related to the burning rate and is therefore an important parameter for describing and understanding the burning process, especially since the melting rate is commonly recorded during standard flammability testing for metallic materials and is incorporated into many relative flammability ranking schemes. However, while the factors that influence melting rate (such as oxygen pressure or specimen diameter) have been well characterized, there is a need for an improved understanding of how these parameters interact as part of the overall melting and burning of the system. Proposed here is the “melting rate triangle,” which aims to provide this focus through a conceptual framework for understanding how the melting rate (of solid fuel) is determined and regulated during heterogeneous burning. In this paper, the proposed conceptual model is shown to be both (a) consistent with known trends and previously observed results, and (b) capable of being expanded to incorporate new data. Also shown are examples of how the melting rate triangle can improve the interpretation of flammability test results. Slusser and Miller previously published an “extended fire triangle” as a useful conceptual model of ignition and the factors affecting ignition, providing industry with a framework for discussion. In this paper it is shown that a melting rate triangle provides a similar qualitative framework for burning, leading to an improved understanding of the factors affecting fire propagation and extinguishment.