Non-intrusive measurements in fire sprinkler sprays

John F. Widmann*, David T. Sheppard, Richard M. Lueptow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The results of phase Doppler interferometry (PDI) and particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements to characterize the water sprays produced by fire sprinklers are presented. The large size of the water drops produced by fire sprinklers, and the relatively large coverage area of the spray, present significant challenges when attempting to characterize these sprays. These difficulties are especially relevant when using PDI because large drops and large coverage areas may result in attenuation of the transmitting laser beams. For the fire sprinkler investigated, it was determined that attenuation of the laser beam resulted in over-counting of drops due to burst splitting, a situation in which the Doppler signals from single drops are misinterpreted as being due to multiple drops. This effect was minimized by carefully choosing the operating conditions of the PDI processing electronics. PIV measurements provide velocity profiles that can be used as input for fire dynamics simulations to predict the effect of sprinkler sprays on fires. The results from the PIV measurements show good agreement with the velocity measurements obtained from PDI in the core of the spray, but poorer agreement along the sprinkler axis. The discrepancy was attributed to recirculation zones present in the experimental facility and possible biasing of the PIV measurements towards the larger drops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-315
Number of pages19
JournalFire Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001


  • Drop size
  • Drop velocity
  • Fire sprinkles
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Phase doppler interferometry
  • Sprinkler sprays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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