Backdraft Phenomena

Report Date: June 1994

This NIST project from 1994 was undertaken to develop a fundamental physical understanding of backdraft phenomena. A backdraft is defined as a rapid deflagration following the introduction of oxygen into a compartment filled with unburned fuel, leading to terrible consequences for occupants of the compartment. The goals of the research were to give a background on backdraft studies, safely simulate a backdraft in the laboratory, accurately model gravity currents, and to perform quantitative backdraft experiments. The results of the experiments lead to a better understanding of backdrafts, as outlined in the paper.


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  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

Fleischmann, Charles. Backdraft Phenomena. Gaithersburg,MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, 1994. NIST-GCR-94-646, Print.Title Author Notes

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