Instrumentation and diagnostics

Fire research at University of Waterloo is supported by a full range of combustion and measurement instrumentation, including computerized data acquisition systems, thermocouple measurement systems, flow visualization, Laser Doppler Velocimetry (LDV), Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), vane and ultrasonic anemometers, laser induced fluorescence, hot wire and gas analysis systems.


Instrumentation and control systems

Data acquisition system – A NI Compact FieldPoint system with customized LabView applications anchors data collection capability in the Fire Research group. This flexible, easy-to-use and easily expandable system currently allows collection of over 380 channels of data from a variety of temperature, pressure, and flow transducers with ethernet connection directly back to control room computer systems.

Thermocouple networks - Thermocouples, comprised of two dissimilar metals joined together at a specific measurement location, are distributed throughout the test area in custom designed networks that enable researchers to chart gas and surface temperatures as a function of both location and time.

Transducers - In addition to thermocouples, a variety of transducers are available to monitor velocity, pressure, fuel regression/mass loss rates, heat flux and radiation. These include commercial and custom designed heat flux gauges, bi-directional velocity probes, CSAT anemometry, differential pressure transducers and load cells.

Spray characterization

Particle dynamics analyser – A Phase Doppler Particle Analyzer can be used to characterize the size and velocity of ‘particles’ (typically solid seed particles, liquid droplets or bubbles) at a point in a flow.  Spray flux distributions are then typically determined using repeat measurements at multiple locations in the flow.  

Chemical analysis equipment

FTIR infrared spectrometer – Portable and research quality Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometers allow identification of gaseous species in a sample, via determination of the infrared spectra of the sample. These units also allow quantitative determination of the concentrations of certain species in the flow.

Gas chromatograph with MS - This system is used to separate, identify and measure semi- and non-volatile liquids and gases. With mass spectrometric detection, specific molecular structures of detected compounds can also be identified.

Combustion gas analysis – Complementary to the systems above, a ruggedized, cart-mounted CO/CO2/THC/O2/NOx analyzer bank, with high temperature gas sampling train, allows measurement and analysis of key gases generated during large scale live fire scenarios.

Photographic and imaging systems

Video and still cameras – A selection of standard and digital, film and video camera systems allow complete coverage of fire test scenarios. Remote observation of test progress and fire development are facilitated via live video feed into the control room (up to five monitors simultaneously).

High speed motion analyzer – A Photron SA-1 Fastcam captures 5,400 fps at mega pixel resolution for higher speed imaging. This allows time-resolved, full colour imaging of characteristics such as ignition, early fire spread, fire plume development and smoke layering.

Infrared imaging system – The FLIR IR imaging/analysis thermography system allows detection and measurement of thermal energy in the IR spectrum, which can then be translated into maps of temperature distribution, usually on a surface or object in the fire.