Determination of the Burning Characteristics of a Slick of Oil on Water
Torero, Jose L
Olenick, Stephen M
Garo, Jean P
Vantelon, Jean P
The burning rate of a slick of oil on a water bed is characterized by three distinct processes, ignition, flame spread and burning rate. Although all three processes are important, ignition and burning rate are critical. The former, because it defines the potential to burn and the latter because of the inherent possibility of boilover. Burning rate is calculated by a simple expression derived from a onedimensional heat conduction equation. Heat feedback from the flame to the surface is assumed to be a constant fraction of the total energy released by the combustion reaction. The constant fraction (c) is named the burning efficiency and represents an important tool in assessing the potential of in-situ burning as a counter-measure to an oil-spill. By matching the characteristic thermal penetration length scale for the fuel/water system and an equivalent single layer system, a combined thermal diffusivity can be calculated and used to obtain an analytical solution for the burning rate. Theoretical expressions were correlated with crude oil and heating oil, for a number of pool diameters and initial fuel layer thickness. Experiments were also conducted with emulsified and weathered crude oil. The simple analytical expression describes well the effects of pool diameter and initial fuel layer thickness permitting a better observation of the effects of weathering, emulsification and net heat feedback to the fuel surface. Experiments showed that only a small fraction of the heat released by the flame is retained by the fuel layer and water bed (of the order of 1%). Ignition has been studied to provide a tool that will serve to assess a fuels ease to ignite under conditions that are representative of oil spills. Two different techniques are used, piloted ignition when the fuel is exposed to a radiant heat flux and flash point as measured by the ASTM D56 Tag Closed Cup Test. Two different crude oils were used for these experiments, ANS and Cook Inlet. Crude oils were tested in their natural state and at different levels of weathering, showing that piloted ignition and flash point are strong functions of weathering level.
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