Cellular flame structures and thermal characteristics of axi-symmetric ceiling fires: An experimental study and scaling analysis

Xu Fang, Longhua Hu, Ang Qiu, Xiaolei Zhang, Kazunori Kuwana

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The present study provides an experimental characterization of cellular flame structures and thermal characteristics of axi-symmetric ceiling fires. Experiments were carried out employing circular gaseous burners of various diameters at the ceiling facing downward using methane and propane as fuel. For this configuration, a hot buoyant diffusion flame burning beneath the cold fuel gas issuing from the ceiling above was naturally resulted in. A cellular flame structure, due to the inherent “Rayleigh-Taylor’’ instability of this buoyant flow configuration, was formed beneath the ceiling. The flame length (radius), temperature and heat flux distribution along the ceiling as well as characteristic inner cell size evolution of this special cellular flame were quantified experimentally for such ceiling fire of various conditions. Scaling analysis was performed to analyze the obtained parameters of the cellular flame structure and thermal characteristics of the ceiling fire. Results showed that the overall length (radius) of the cellular flame has a 2/5 power dependence on heat release rate and is independent of burner sizes and fuel types. Temperature profile and heat flux distribution for various conditions can be universally expressed as a function of L/Rf, the distance from the burner center normalized by the flame length. The characteristic cell size of the cellular flame was related to temperature, which can be well represented by a 2.33 power function based on the “Rayleigh-Taylor’’ instability scaling analysis. The cell size spatial evolution inside the cellular flame was self-similar corresponding to the dependence of temperature on relative position, and a non-dimensional function was obtained. This study provides fundamental data and a scaling analysis into the basic physics of the cellular flame behavior and thermal characteristics of ceiling fires.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111442
JournalCombustion and Flame
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Ceiling fire
  • Cellular flame
  • Flame cell size
  • Flame length
  • Heat flux
  • Temperature profile


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