Final Reports
  School Map
  Discussion Forum
  Technical Guide
  Past Participant
Supercomputing Challenge

Expanding upon the Elliptical Fire Theory

Team: 84


Area of Science: Environmental Science

Proposal: Research Plan: Analytical Fire Modeling: Expanding upon the Elliptical Fire Theory Phase III

Can the elliptical fire theory modeling process be
both continued upon and validated?

B.Hypothesis- Empirical Testing
If the program’s fire flow follows the experiment’s
fire flow, then the program is valid.

C.Engineering Goals
Last phase, a computer modeling process was written to simulate fire flow across a virtual forest environment. Currently it accounts for
Fire growth across differing terrains
Wind vectoring
For more information go to

Expanding upon the previous work
1. Validation of the computer modeling process developed
Use of empirical cases for comparison against model
Basic fuel testing in a laboratory setting not
burning a forest
2. Expansion of variable accountancy and accuracy
Heat/Radiation Modeling
3. Environmental Modeling
Genuine generation of virtual forest terrain through
scanning satellite photos of forest and elevation maps
4. Development of modeling process in a streamlined
computer application
Java programming GUI design encapsulating the
modeling processes


Empirical Testing
A fire test case simulation will be created using basic elements. The experiment will be burned and recorded using a camcorder to record the spread of the fire. From this data other data can be gathered and placed within the program
A variation of the experiment will be performed and the program, not adjusted, will model the experiment. The results will be compared to assess validity of the modeling process.
For example a basic experiment will be set up that consists of two pieces of paper connected. It is burned and the spread of the fire is recorded through a camcorder. The information gathered regarding the traits of the specific fuels will be placed within the modeling program. Then a differing experiment will be created but one containing the same fuel types. There will also be a simulation of this experiment programmed into the modeling program. The two will then be compared. If the program’s fire flow follows the experiment’s fire flow, then the program is valid.

Computer Modeling
A java application will be used to implement the modeling process as dictated through the java programming language.

E.Hazardous Activities
1. Risk Assessment
Fire is dangerous if correct precautions are not
taken possible risks include
Structure Fire
2. Safety Precautions
Fire Safety
Fire extinguisher in immediate area
Nearby phone in case of emergency
Removal of nearby fuel sources
Performance of empirical experiment in a clean
laboratory-like setting
Residence Garage
Parental Approval
Ventilated Atmosphere
Small fire size and basic fuels
Small enough size to capture with a camcorder and
not threaten
Basic fuels such as paper and balsa wood
3. Methods of Disposal
Burn Out: The experiment is set to burn out itself
Fire Extinguishment: In case of emergency and fire
spread beyond design a fire extinguisher will be

F.Data Analysis
Modeling data will be analyzed through recording of values into computer files. Values of interest include spread of fire, spread rates of individual fuels, and environmental factors. Yet, with a computer modeling program any variable programmed into the modeling process can easily be recorded and analyzed.
Empirical Data will be gathered through a camcorder. This data can be analyzed over a time scale and stop frame and data such as spread rates of fuels can be determined by this analysis.
After modeling data and empirical data has been gathered it can be analyzed against each other using statistical tests such as a t test or any test that will plot the correlation of the modeled fire against the empirical testing to determine margin of error of the modeling program.

Finney, M. (1998). FARSITE: Fire area simulator- model development and analysis. USDA USFS. (Research Paper). RMRS-RP-4 Revised
Finey, M. (2002) Australian Mathematical Society Fire Growth Using Minimum Travel Time Methods.
Huo, R., Wang, H, Li, Y, Hu, L. (2006). An empirical equation to predict the growth coefficient of burning rate of wood cribs in a linear growth model. Journal of Fire Sciences. 24.2 153-171
Morrison, C, Kutac, N. (2006). Analytical fire modeling: Fire in its environment. Independent Research. (Research Paper).
Rein, G, Amnon B, Carlos Fernandez-Pello, A, Norman, A. (2005). A comparison of three models for the simulation of accidental fires. Journal of Fire Protection Engineering 16(3) 183-21

Team Members:

  Catherine Fessler
  Christopher Morrison

Sponsoring Teacher: Janet Penevolpe

Mail the entire Team