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Fire & Materials Laboratory

CSE is equipped with a full array of analytical equipment for all your testing needs including:

  • Calorimeter and FTIR

  • Gas Analyzers (including Rosemount and Hand Held)

  • Radiometers from 10 kW/m2 to 7000 kW/m2 (both Gardon and Schmidt-Boelter) and Thermocouples

  • Labview Data Acquisition System and Signal boards

CSE also has a 0-90 degree Dual Radiant Panel with a maximum 50 kW/m2 output, a Convective Oven, and a full array of electrical Testing equipment including a 10 kW Load Bank, Transformers, Variable Power Supplies, Oscilloscope, Multimeters, and Transducers and Transmitters for signal capture.

Testing Apparatus

CSE has a variety of test apparatus for fire and material characterization including:

RPP: Radiant Protective Performance (RPP) is a textile testing method designed to evaluate radiant heat resistance. According to ASTM Standard F1939, three 4 x 10 in. samples are exposed to 8.4 watts/cm2 (2.0 cal/cm2) for no longer than 60 seconds. Heat energy comes from five 500W infrared quartz heater tubes, and a copper disk calorimeter measures heat transferred through the fabric.

TPP: Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) is a method of testing a textiles resistance to overall thermal energy. Detailed in NFPA Standard 1971 and ISO TC 17492, TPP testing relies on two heat sources; convective heat from two meker propane burners, and a bank of quartz infrared heater tubes. The entire assembly is calibrated to output 8.4 watts/cm2 (2.0 cal/cm2). Heat transmitted through the sample is measured by a copper disk calorimeter. Data is analyzed via labview, and several variables are tracked; among them heat, heat flux, and human tissue tolerance (exposure levels required to cause second degree burns).

Dynamic Radiant/Convective Flow Apparatus: The Dynamic Radiant/Convective Flow Apparatus is a combined convective and radiative thermal load analyzer for testing textile resistance to thermal energy transfer. A wind tunnel capable of supplying 32 m/s of airflow at 100° C uses a bypass for initial heat-up and tests convective heat transfer on textiles in a parallel and perpendicular flow orientation. In the parallel flow orientation, radiant heat flux can be added to the total heat transfer analysis. A 500 W short wave IR heater provides up to 25 kW/m2 of radiant energy to the sample support system. The sample support system consists of a porous ceramic medium known as lava plate as the sample backing with three heat flux gauges and three thermocouples. The lava plate allows for simulation of human skin perspiration. This plate is seated on a water cooled aluminum plate, between two fabric lock rollers that provide a range of sample pressures against the lava plate and sensors. A load cell placed below the aluminum cooling plate measures the compression from the fabric. Variations on air speed, air temperature, incident radiative energy, sample orientation to flow, and sample compression provide a broad range of testing capabilities with this apparatus.


Product Development & Liability

Product Development and Liability, Material Flammability Characterization, and Failure Analysis:

CSE has specialized expertise in the quantification of fire characteristics of products in the developmental phase, as well as, assessing the potential for product failure and/or determining if a product was the cause of a fire. With the full assortment of instrumentation available in the CSE laboratory, temperature rise, smoke toxicity and obscuration, mass loss and energy production during combustion of a product can be characterized. Additionally, CSE has many ignition systems available including radiant panels, convective oven, and direct flame impingement. CSE is equipped to perform EPA SW-846 Method 1050 testing in addition to other self-heating and spontaneous combustion tests.


Fire Reconstruction

CSE has in-house machining capabilities including a Milling Machine and a Lathe.

Hooded Lab Space: For small, mid or large-scale testing, CSE has an impressive High Bay Lab Space which includes three labs, 2400, 1350, and 1075 sq ft. in area, each equipped with hoods handling fire sizes up to 400 kW, 300 kW, and 300 kW, respectively. For small scale testing, CSE has five laboratory spaces, each approximately 300 sq, three of which are equipped with small scale hoods.

Full Scale Two Room with Corridor Test Facility: Within the High Bay Lab Space, CSE has a full-scale two room test facility equipped with a hood, and can be instrumented for quantification of combustion species, temperature and fluxes produced during the combustion of natural gas or propane fueled devices. Additionally, this facility can and has been used for smoke detector activation in smoldering for small-scale fire scenarios.

2/5 Scale Compartment: CSE is equipped with a 2/5 Scale ISO Compartment which can be instrumented according to needs with appropriate gas analyzers, thermocouples, heat flux gauges, etc.

Mobile Instrumentation and Full-Scale Testing: CSE has mobile instrument capabilities, compartment construction capabilities, and on- staff fire suppression personnel to support full-scale multi-room fire testing for fire reconstruction purposes at off-site premises, such as the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.


If your sector could benefit from our expertise and you’d like to hire us for your next project, please get in touch.

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