Ignition: A Century of Research and an Assessment of Our Current Status

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Courtesy of SAGE Publications

Ignition has been systematically, scientifically studied for about a century now. But the development of knowledge in this area has been uneven, and while an advanced understanding has been reached in some areas, knowledge is scant in others. A review of the literature of the field indicates that the following are some of the notable areas where engineering calculation methods are poor or lacking: hot-surface ignition of liquids; ignition of liquid sprays or aerosols; ignition of solids from hot bodies (hot solids or liquids); ignition of solids by small flames; glowing ignition of solids, especially of lignocellulosic materials; almost all aspects of the ignition of dust clouds; and electrical fires. It is also noted that, despite a century's research, there have been very few theories developed in the ignition field that have engineering utility. The vast majority of theoretical development efforts have produced unwieldy computational models that would require a plethora of generally unavailable input data, along with the use of computer codes that are proprietary to the individual author and not available to the research community. Thus, laboratory testing is almost invariably required, and theories are typically only used as a means of interpolating or extrapolating data.

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