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Mid-America Transportation Center

Improving Freight Fire Safety Assessment of the Effectiveness of Mist-controlling Additives in Mitigating Crash-Induced Diesel Fires

Final Report
click to download report


University of Iowa

Transportation Systems Engineering


  • Principal Investigator: Albert Ratner ( (319)384-0883)
  • Graduate Students
  • Taleb Salameh
  • Yan Zhang
  • Project Status
  • Start Date: 3/10/2008
  • End Date: 6/30/2011
  • Sponsors & Partners
  • Mid-America Transportation Center
  • University of Iowa
  • About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    This project will continue to develop the science and technology required to implement fuel additives that improve fire safety for trucks and trains. The polymer-based fuel additives reduce fuel misting in accidents and thereby reduce the chance of fire. Current project work includes both experimental testing and computer simulation.
    Research Objective
    The objective of this program is to assess the applicability of viscosity-modifying polymer additives to reducing fuel fires in crashes involving diesel powered transportation systems. This work will also compare performance of such polymers in Diesel and Jet-A fuels.
    Potential Benefits
    If, as expected, these additives are effective in diesel, then a full-scale evaluation can be undertaken to examine the issues involved in transportation system implementation. Implementation of such additives would reduces accident fires and improve safety in the transportation system.
    This proposal builds on the research results generated through MATC-DOE funding in developing the basis for a fire reducing fuel additive. Fuel fires continue to be a significant issue in transportation accidents and eliminating or mitigating these remains an important priority. After two years of preliminary testing and analysis, there appears to be a clear operational window in which a mist-controlling polymer may be added to diesel fuel to produce the desired fire reducing characteristics while not adversely impacting fuel system operation and performance. The proposed work will expand the computer modeling and experimental testing with the goal of developing a fast and cost-effective methodology for testing fuel modifying polymers for effectiveness. Such a system will enable polymer designers to close-the-loop and receive feedback on polymer performance quickly, allowing for fast re-design and re-testing. The methodology uses a combined numerical simulation and mathematical fitting process to extract the (non-Newtonian) viscosity behavior for the polymer-modified fuel. The numerical simulation has a numerical viscosity that is varied so as to produce a best-fit behavior with the experimental test, and when a best-fit state is reached, a mathematical formula is extracted. This method will be instrumental in bringing safety-enhancing polymer fuel to a level of practical utilization.
    Total Project Cost
    $ 59,413
    Modal Orientation
  • Freight
  • Safety and Human Performance