WIT Press

An Investigation Into The Smoldering Combustion Of Paper


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

351 - 363




1,687 kb


A. Tinaburri, F. A. Ponziani, V. Ricci


Following some fire investigation activities on the smoldering phase of paper items in a stack configuration, a campaign of tests was conducted to examine the particular dynamics of this type of combustion. The smoldering phase of stacks made up by various paper elements was investigated, using heptane poured on the top of the stack as the ignition source. The following parameters were varied: size and grammage of the paper sheets; height of the paper stack. Several thermocouples and a scale were used to log data during each test whose duration was on a typical timescale of a day. Among the outcome, two issues of paramount importance for the smoldering phase under analysis were highlighted: the identification of a constant mass loss rate phase and, provided the ignition source is of sufficient strength, the total involvement of the paper stack if sufficient time is allowed for the smoldering combustion to proceed. A regression model based on the test results was then developed that could take into account the behavior of the smoldering combustion representative of the different paper format under investigation. A metric useful for reconstruction of smoldering of a paper stack is thus derived.


smoldering, mass loss, paper stack, combustion, flaming