Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Preventing fire accidents in tunnels

Tunnels, mines and other underground stations and passages, need to be carefully designed with the maximum possible safety precautions. A newly developed model based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) helps engineers investigate the smoke and airflow effects of a fire in a tunnel. With its robust computational simulation capabilities it allows the optimum tunnel design safeguarding against fire accidents.
Preventing fire accidents in tunnels
Some of the world's most astounding engineering feats are tunnels. Not only do they enable mining activities, they also provide fast transportation paths. These environmentally closed systems need to be safely designed since they are utilised by human beings. The design with good safety precautions in case of a fire or smoke flow involves extensive experimental studies, which are unrepeatable, difficult to control, hazardous, damaging and expensive.

Alternatively, a Computational Fluid Dynamics model that appropriately demonstrates the way that a fire and/or smoke spreads in tunnels, mines and other underground spaces has already been developed. The model helps in the investigation of ventilation and fire performance of underground spaces, allowing a better understanding of the airflow consequences of a fire and leading to either a design or design improvements of extremely safe tunnels.

Grounded on the commercial CFD software programme STAR-CD, this model exploits contemporary modelling methods for a dynamic simulation of different scenarios in a three-dimensional system. A variety of modelling tools are available for the investigation of the fire spreading and the smoke moving within the tunnel airflow. These include study of combustion, anisotropic turbulence, smoke characterisation, radiative heat exchange between smoke and surfaces and convective heat transfers at surfaces. Furthermore, the user can visualise the fire effects and the air flows interactions within the whole tunnel system.

Simulation of experimental results derived from a project led to a successful product validation. With its powerful computer simulation capabilities, it is now possible to study alternative designs of a tunnel's geometry and ventilation systems. Therefore, the simulation model allows engineers to evaluate many more alternative designs in a short period of time and provides more information about each design they evaluate, thus, resulting in better designs. It is expected that the model will greatly streamline the design process with optimum designs or high performance ventilation systems in case of an underground fire. The product may be used either for design assessment or accident investigation.

Related information

Record Number: 80524 / Last updated on: 2005-09-18
Domain: IT, Telecommunications
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top