fires in woodchippings

"mhagen at" at "mhagen at" at
Fri Mar 14 11:47:41 EST 1997

D Pal wrote:
> I am doing a project on using electronics to detect and give warning of the
> possiblity of fire in a pile of woodchippings.
> The group I am working for is worried that the wood will be decomposed by
> bacteria which will produce heat and possibly set the dry surface of the pile
> alight (similar to fires caused in compost heaps).
> The piles has a volume of 70m3. I need some information on the biology behind
> these fires (such as waste products from the bacteria, heat produced , speed
> of heating, etc.).
> Also does anyone know of a fire that has actually been started in this way?
> I would be grateful for any help received on this subject.
> Thanks,
> Aunkon.

Perhaps this doesn't happen in the U.K. Spontaneous combustion is not at
all unusual in the US, in big chip piles that sit too long. By big I
mean 50 to 100 m tall and allowed to ferment. The process is nothing
more than that, coupled with the excellant insulating properties of
wood. Add O2 after the heat is sufficient and, voila! A shipping
slowdown is the usual contributing cause. I would even stick my neck out
to say that chip pile fires have probably ocurred wherever chips are
For the agroforestry folks, this is a tragic example of improper

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Subject: Re: fires in woodchippings
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 08:47:41 -0800
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