United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Consolidation of the 1985 Sandia National Laboratories/Factory Mutual Main Control Room and Electrical Cabinet Fire Test Data (NUREG-2164)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: September 2014
Date Published:
May 2015

Prepared by:
F. Gonzalez, N. Melly, S. Nowlen* and J.M. Chavez*

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

*Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM 87185
Operated by Sandia Corporation
For the U.S. Department of Energy

F. Gonzalez, NRC Project Manager

Availability Notice


This report consolidates and refines the details and all the data recorded during the 1985 series of 25 main control room (MCR) fire tests performed by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). These tests were conducted at the Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FMRC) for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) under direct contract to SNL. The objective of these tests was to provide experimental data to validate computer fire models in the analysis of nuclear power plant (NPP) large enclosure fires. While select parts of the data have previously been reported, no single consolidated report was prepared to produce the data in a high quality, usable manner; this report fills that need.

FMRC performed these fire tests in a test enclosure simulating a typical space in an NPP MCR. The test enclosure measured 18.3 meters (m) x 12.2 m x 6.1 m [60 feet (ft) x 40 ft x 20 ft]. The original program had two phases: (1) the development of fire in electrical cabinets and (2) the effect of those fires on a simulated MCR. Propylene gas burner, heptane pool, methanol pool, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) solids, qualified cables and unqualified cables were used as fire sources. The parameters included were fire intensity, fire location, ventilation rate, and fire burning mode. The tests recorded over 300 data channels, which included measurements such as air and surface temperature, air velocity, heat fluxes, optical smoke density, and gas concentrations.

This report is an updated and expanded compilation of the test details as described in NUREG/CR-4681, "Enclosure Environment Characterization Testing for the Base Line Validation of Computer Fire Simulation Codes," NUREG/CR-4527, "An Experimental Investigation of Internally Ignited Fires in Nuclear Power Plant Control Cabinets, Volume II: Room Effects Tests;" and Steve Nowlen's "Survivor's Guide for Users of the Baseline Validation Test Data" (Nowlen, 1999). These two NUREGs and the "Survivor's Guide" are included on Supplement 1 (CD) and provide an historical discussion of the testing methods and examples of part of the data. Most of this data has never been used the lack of availability, lack of fire modeling research in this area, and the difficulty in accessing and extracting the original data, which is, in part, because these tests were ahead of their time. The purpose of this report is to make the data gathered by FMRC in 1985 more readily available and easier to use. The data was converted to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file format to facilitate its use and is contained in electronic format in Supplement 1 of this report; this data is also available through/by contacting the NRC's Fire Research Branch. These completed data sets are now used in NUREG-1824, "Verification and Validation of Selected Fire Models for Nuclear Power Plant Applications."

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 26, 2016