SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2003

Sandia Heat Flux Gauge Thermal Response and Uncertainty Models


The Sandia Heat Flux Gauge (HFG) was developed as a rugged, cost-effective technique for performing steady state heat flux measurements in the pool fire environment. The technique involves reducing the time-temperature history of a thin metal plate to an incident heat flux via a dynamic thermal model, even though the gauge is intended for use at steady state. In this report, the construction of the gauge is reviewed. The thermal model that describes the dynamic response of the gauge to the fire environment is then advanced and it is shown how the heat flux is determined from the temperature readings. This response model is based on first principles with no empirically adjusted constants. A validation experiment is presented where the gauge was exposed to a step input of radiant heat flux. Comparison of the incident flux, determined from the thermal response model, with the known flux input shows that the gauge exhibits an noticeable time lag. The uncertainty of the measurement is analyzed, and an uncertainty model is put forth using the data obtained from the experiment. The uncertainty model contains contributions from 17 separate sources loosely categorized as being either from uncontrolled variability, missing physics, or simplifying assumptions. As part of the missing physics, an empirical constant is found that compensates for the gauge time lag. Because this compensation is incorporated into the uncertainty model instead of the response model, this information can be used to advantage in analyzing pool fire data by causing large uncertainties in non-steady state situations. A short general discussion on the uncertainty of the instrument is presented along with some suggested design changes that would facilitate the determination and reduction of the measurement uncertainty.

Author Information

Blanchat, T
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
Humphries, L
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
Gill, W
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
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Developed by Committee: E05
Pages: 81–110
DOI: 10.1520/STP10950S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5477-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3451-5