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Metallographic Analysis and Fire Dynamics Simulation for Electrical Fire Scene Reconstruction

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Abstract:  This study demonstrated the use of metallographic analysis and NIST’s Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) program to identify the cause of an actual electrical fire. A severely carbonized steel plate and a cable with a bead were found inside a damaged switchboard from the debris of a factory fire. By metallographic analysis, the copper spatter on the steel plate was found to imply a short circuit has occurred and that this was the probable ignition source of the fire was supported by the presence of a small amount of copper oxide and by the cavities with the tree‐like grain microstructures in the bead. The heat estimated to have been released per unit area of the switchboard in question (approximately 236.29 MJ/m2) served as key input data for applying the FDS simulation of the blaze. The simulation indicated that thermal insulation polyethylene (PE) played an important role in the rapid fire spread.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Fire Science, Wu Feng University, 117 Jianguo Rd., Sec. 2, Minsyong, Chiayi 62153, Taiwan.

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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