A Review of Fundamental Combustion Phenomena in Wire Fires

Xinyan Huang, Yuji Nakamura

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Electrical wires and cables have been identified as a potential source of fire in residential buildings, nuclear power plants, aircraft, and spacecraft. This work reviews the recent understandings of the fundamental combustion processes in wire fire over the last three decades. Based on experimental studies using ideal laboratory wires, physical-based theories are proposed to describe the unique wire fire phenomena. The review emphasizes the complex role of the metallic core in the ignition, flame spread, burning, and extinction of wire fire. Moreover, the influence of wire configurations and environmental conditions, such as pressure, oxygen level, and gravity, on wire-fire behaviors are discussed in detail. Finally, the challenges and problems in both the fundamental research, using laboratory wires and numerical simulations, and the applied research, using commercial cables and empirical function approaches, are thoroughly discussed to guide future wire fire research and the design of fire-safe wire and cables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-360
Number of pages46
JournalFire Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Cable
  • Electrical wire
  • Fire modelling
  • Insulation and core
  • Laboratory wire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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