RR1144 - Measurements of burning rate and radiative heat transfer for pools of ethanol and cask-strength whisky

Large storage sites for alcoholic spirits are regulated under the COMAH Regulations by HSE, and the site operators require Hazardous Substance Consent to permit them to store these flammable liquids. HSE needs to consider the magnitude and extent of harm to people from potential incidents involving these substances, including that caused by thermal radiation from spirit fires.

Data from scientific sources on the thermal output of fires involving ethanol is limited, reporting high strength ethanol only. This is not representative of fires in industry involving spirit beverages with a range of alcohol by volume (ABV) strengths in large pools, suggesting that use of this sparse data could lead to overly conservative results in the estimation of harm from potential events. To address this, fire specialists at HSE's laboratory carried out a range of pool fire tests with pool areas up to 16 m² of various ethanol/water mixtures and waste whisky, which was supplied by the Scotch Whisky Association.

The data collected from these tests will assist HSE in producing more appropriate, lower estimates of harm from spirit fires. It may also assist risk management by companies in the alcoholic beverage sector and specialist consultants they may engage.

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Updated 2021-04-16