For the last six years the National Research Council (NRC) has been collaborating with Transport Canada to investigate fire incidents involving crude oil rail tank cars. The investigation involved conducting intermediate-scale experiments of a tank car engulfed in pool fires fuelled by crude oil to characterize the thermal conditions external to the tank car. The experiments were conducted by the NRC and Sandia National Laboratories using a 1/10th scale cylindrical calorimeter to simulate a tank car. The calorimeter was placed above a 2-m diameter crude oil pool fire. To complement these experiments and to gain further insight the NRC has been constructing a numerical fire model for the conducted crude oil fire tests. These efforts have been envisioned to include four stages. The first stage objective was to explore the feasibility of using numerical models to simulate crude oil fires. Two open source tools were used: Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) and Open Source Field Operation and Manipulation (OpenFOAM). Both tools showed promising capabilities to simulate crude oil fires using parallel computation.
Presented in this report are the findings from Stage 2 of the “Numerical Fire Modeling of Crude Oil Spills” project. The objective of this stage is to evaluate the ability of numerical models to predict gas phase parameters from crude oil pool fires. The numerical modelling results were validated using the NRC-Sandia crude oil pool fire experiments that were conducted to obtain thermal environment around a 1/10th scale rail tank car (calorimeter) engulfed in a 2-m diameter pool fire fueled by heptane and Bakken and dilbit crude oils.