fire with flames

CFD modelling of a foundry furnace

Case Study

Case Study

Using computational fluid dynamic modelling to simulate temperature distribution and soot dynamics of a foundry furnace worst-case scenario

Diagram of fire and soot CFD simulation 360 of a foundry furnace

Fire constitutes a significant threat to life and property in both industrial and residential buildings. In industrial buildings where large, high temperature furnaces are present like foundries and steel plants, the risk of a fire breakout is increased. There’s also an increased risk of harmful combustion gases spreading into the surrounding environment and putting the personnel in danger. Furthermore, hydraulic oil and lubricating oil can ignite near a glowing molten mass.

As real-life scenario simulations and tests are not possible due to scale of requirements, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has become an essential tool in the design of buildings and their fire strategy. CFD enables multiple scenarios to be simulated to assess the efficacy of the fire barriers and ventilation systems at the early stages of the design.

Residential buildings need to be designed to prevent the spreading of a fire and the smoke produced to enable the safe evacuation of the residents and the safe operations of firefighting. High rise buildings can be particularly problematic as fire and smoke can move rapidly from the lower to upper floors and staircases and elevator shafts can become channels for rapid spread.

Smoke and toxic gases released by the fire, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen chloride, are the most fatal factors. The presence of smoke particles decreases the visibility, making it difficult for the residents to successfully evacuate the building safely. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that the ventilation system in the building is effective in keeping the means of escape, like corridors and staircases, clear of smoke during evacuation and firefighting.

Using CFD to simulate temperature distribution and soot dynamics of a foundry furnace

TÜV SÜD CFD engineers collaborated with Dr Paolo Caccavale (Fluere SP, www.fluere.it) to model a foundry furnace.

An unsteady simulation of combustion, heat release and soot production of a foundry furnace with hot fume extraction system was performed.

The aim was to verify the temperature distribution and the soot dynamics – if the soot escapes the internal barriers or the openings it would be directly emitted into the surrounding environment.

The model consists of:

  • Some main parts, ie furnace, scrap basket and crane (positioned and fixed above the furnace – worst-case scenario)
  • Some structural parts
  • Doghouse
  • Canopy hood with ventilation ducts

The solver used is FDS (Fire Dynamic Simulator) by NIST (National Institute of Standard and Technology). The post-processor used is Paraview by Kitware

CFD Simulation of Fire and Soot

The simulation helps to check the temperature distribution and the soot dynamics – will the soot escape the internal barriers or the openings and end up in the surrounding environment?

Graph Showing Furnace/Combustion Heat Release Rate

The graphs show the heat released by the furnace and the air flow through the openings of the buildings. After an initial transitory period, the amount of clean air entering the building from the opening equals the air extracted by the fan, which comprises the smoke generated by the furnace.

Graph Showing Extraction/Openings Volume Flow Rate

The simulation shows that some smoke manages to escape the canopy, reaches some regions external to the canopy and stagnates under the roof as it is now difficult to extract. This is due to the suboptimal shape of the canopy and insufficient extraction flow rate. However, the wall that splits the buildings into two environments is effective in keeping the smoke in the furnace area and preventing it from reaching the other environment.

Although some smoke escapes from the canopy, it remains confined in a thin layer at the top of the building, in a relatively small amount. Therefore, urgent actions are not deemed necessary by the client, but the extension of the canopy to prevent smoke from escaping is being considered during planned maintenance.

Dr Alessandro Pranzitelli, CFD Specialist

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