Fire and the Wood

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Before installing your stove, check with local authorities to be sure you comply with local fire and building codes. Think twice about where you'll put your stove.

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Usually a centralized location is best if the stove is to be used as a heating device. One point to consider is that warmed air rises. If the stove is too near a stairwell, you may lose much of your heat to the floor above. If you plan to use an existing chimney, both its location and the length of its flue will be determining factors.

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Note these guidelines:. If you use an existing fireplace chimney to vent your stove, it must be sealed off below the stove pipe's point of entry to prevent toxic gases from backing up into the room. This can be done by:. The cross-section area of the chimney flue should be at least 25 percent bigger than and not more than three times that of the stove pipe. Avoid connecting more than one heating device to a single chimney flue because flue gases and sparks may pass from one flue opening into another and unsatisfactory operation may also result.

Be sure your chimney is in good condition and that it has a flue lining. Check for missing flue tiles and cracked masonry. You may want to have a chimney sweep check the chimney and a mason make any repairs that may be needed. With a masonry chimney, the stove pipe should be extended through the chimney wall to its inner face, but not beyond. Use high-temperature cement to fasten the pipe to the masonry.

If you have no suitable chimney or if you prefer not to close off your fireplace, a factory-built chimney listed by a recognized testing laboratory is a good solution. It should extend at least three feet above the highest point where it passes through the roof of the building and at least two feet higher than any portion of a building within 10 feet. The stove pipe should be of corrosion-resistant steel of suitable gauge. These are the standards set by NFPA:. NFPA standards also call for a stove pipe to have an internal cross-sectional area not less than that of the stove's flue collar.

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The pipe should be as straight and short as possible, with sections properly secured. If it must have angles, limit them to one or, at the most, two sweeping degree elbows or the equivalent. The horizontal portion of the pipe should rise not less than one-quarter inch to the linear foot, to insure a good draft. You should not pass a stove pipe through a combustible wall for a hook-up with a chimney flue. However, if there is no alternative, the stove pipe must be passed through a thimble or collar.

NFPA has set these standards:. It can be made by a local sheet metal company or tinsmith. Material for closing this opening must be noncombustible and insulating. If a wood burning stove has an automatic draft regulator controlled by a thermostat, the manufacturer's instructions for installing it must be carefully followed. Alternately, a manually operated damper can be installed on the pipe near the stove. This damper should not obstruct more than 80 percent of the pipe area. A second damper higher up on the vertical section of the stove pipe is advisable to permit shutting down the stove in case of a chimney fire.

You can have this made by a local sheet metal company or a tinsmith. Green wood has too high a moisture content for satisfactory use. For your stove select wood preferably hard wood—that has been seasoned six months to a year. Wood split before storing to season dries in less time and burns more evenly. Apple, red oak, sugar maple, beech and ironwood have the best heat values, according to the University of Maine Extension Service.

Use of the proper wood is your best safeguard against an accumulation of creosote, an oily substance which derives from incomplete combustion, on the lining of the chimney flue. A spark can ignite creosote and cause what can be an extremely hot and dangerous fire. Dry and well-seasoned wood will not only minimize the chance of creosote formation, but will give you the most efficient fire.

Burning green wood can cause the formation of so much creosote that it may even run down inside the stove pipe and drip onto the stove or floor. Be sure to open the damper near the stove before starting a fire. If you have a second, higher one, it can remain open, for use only in emergencies. TGA is a technique that provides quantitative decomposition information on a polymeric material and can be used to study degradation kinetics and char formation Crompton The sample in milligram quantities is subjected to a controlled temperature regime typically consisting of a constant heating rate whilst the weight of the sample is monitored throughout the decomposition.

This provides a measurement of weight loss as a function of temperature. As the material is heated, it can either lose weight through drying or liberation of gases or volatiles, or it can gain weight through reaction with the test atmosphere.

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The thermal stability of the wood can be evaluated from the data produced. In differential thermal analysis DTA , a sample and an inert reference sample with approximately the same heat capacity are subjected to the same temperature programme. If the decomposition process of the sample is endothermic, such as anaerobic pyrolysis or gasification, the temperature of the sample will trail behind the reference material. If the process is exothermic, such as char oxidation, then the temperature of the sample will exceed that of the reference.

The differential temperature is then plotted either against time or temperature. Differential temperatures can also be seen in two inert samples that respond differently when heated. Differential thermogravimetry DTG uses the same measurement as TGA, the output results are presented as the differential of mass loss over time to give the mass loss rate versus temperature. DTG curves are useful for mechanistic studies, where a good indication as to when the various stages of decomposition occur and the associated order are provided. This is useful for the determination of the effectiveness of mixtures, e.

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  5. Flammability is a catch-all term to describe the reaction to fire characteristics of a material. It cannot be represented by a single value, as several parameters are involved Quintiere Flammability assessment methods are fundamental in the screening and evaluation of fire retardant materials.

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    The majority of fire tests in common use aim to determine some of the following fire properties of materials:. There are many experimental studies and reviews available in the literature on the heat release and reaction to fire performance of wood Tran ; White The cone calorimeter ISO —1 is the most widely used bench-scale fire test method in use, providing a variety of quantifiable flammability parameters. It is employed as a means of predicting how a material will behave in a real fire scenario by providing the user with the HRR, mass loss rate MLR , smoke production, fire spread and ignition properties.

    The method does have its limitations, however, in that the test conditions are only specific to a well-ventilated fire scenario, and it only assesses one-dimensional fire propagation into the substrate, taking no account of surface flame spread. This prevents the attribution of results to under-ventilated fires or post flashover fires Carpenter and Janssens Cone calorimetry assesses the heat contribution to the fire by the product. It measures the heat release based on the principle that the net heat of combustion is proportional to the mass of oxygen required for combustion and it has been established that approximately Test specimens are uniformly heated by a radiant heating source and ignited through the use of a spark igniter.

    The material is continuously weighed in order to determine mass loss as a parameter in its own right, and as a function of time and heat release. Measurements are deduced from the effluent oxygen concentration and exhaust gas flow rates. The first peak in the curve occurs after an initial heating period, when the volatile pyrolysis gases are in sufficient supply to allow ignition by an external spark igniter to support ignition.

    The heat generated by combustion sustains the pyrolysis of wood, thus releasing more volatiles. The dip in the curve corresponds to the formation of the insulating char layer, where heat transfer is more difficult and the pyrolysis process is slowed Marney et al.

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    The second peak in the curve is believed to be caused by sample burn-through and char cracking, facilitating the escape of more volatiles Spearpoint and Quintiere Following the exhaustion of volatiles, flaming combustion ends and the HRR returns to a steady baseline. In the absence of a protective char, the final peak in HRR in cone calorimetry is generally attributed to the lack of material below the pyrolysing fuel, which acts as a heat sink during steady burning.

    At the end of the test little heat transfer occurs to the glass wool supporting the sample. This apparatus is utilised to determine the flammability characteristics of polymeric materials by use of combustion calorimetry on a microscale. MCC reproduces the solid-state and gas-phase processes of flaming combustion in a non-flaming test. As the technique also utilises oxygen consumption calorimetry for determining HRR, combining the results of this method with those of the cone calorimeter can provide valuable heat release data at both the micro- and bench-scale.

    MCC is concerned with bulk burning, however, which means that it is of little sense to attempt the examination of fire retardants applied to the surface of the wood.

    In such cases, bench-scale methods, such as cone calorimetry, should be utilised. No literature is found on the utilisation of MCC to study fire retardant treated timber. The onset of decomposition is indicated by a rise in HRR, which continues until the peak heat release rate is achieved. At this point, the pyrolysis temperature is also reached. Similar to the cone calorimeter, the area under the curve equates to the total heat release THR of the sample.

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