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Memorial Tunnel Program
About The Test Program

The Memorial Tunnel Fire Ventilation Test Program (MTFVTP) was a comprehensive, full-scale test program that was conducted to provide definitive data to support ventilation system design and test operating concepts. The idea for the test program originated with ASHRAE Technical Committee 5.9, Enclosed Vehicular Facilities (TC 5.9) in the early 1980s when it was recognized that there was a need to better understand the capabilities of tunnel ventilation systems to effectively control smoke and heat during a fire emergency. The MTFVTP became a reality in the late 1980s. The work was performed under a joint venture agreement between Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff (B/PB) and the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) for work on the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T), an extensive road tunnel construction project in Boston. The program was funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The overall test program was conducted in four phases.

  Phases I, II, & III

The Memorial Tunnel, an abandoned road tunnel in West Virginia, was modified, retrofitted with new ventilation equipment, and instrumented to evaluate ventilation system performance during full-scale testing. The ventilation systems tested included:

  • Full Transverse Ventilation
  • Partial Transverse Ventilation
  • Partial Transverse Ventilation with Single Point Extraction
  • Partial Transverse Ventilation with Oversized Exhaust Ports
  • Point Supply and Point Exhaust Operation
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Longitudinal Ventilation with Jet Fans

A total of 98 tests were carried out with fires ranging in intensity from 10 to 100 MW.

Phase I focused on test program development. This included an assessment of the tunnel's condition, identification of recommended modifications, designation of the ventilation system types to be tested, and formation of the test plan. Phase II addressed the design of the test facility, and Phase III involved test facility construction, testing, and data evaluation.

The results of the tests generated an extensive database that included air temperature, flow field and smoke distribution data as a function of fire heat release rate, ventilation system type, capacity and operation. The results of the program were documented in a Comprehensive Test Report. In 1996, a CD-ROM version of the report was produced, and it includes all of the data contained in the 9-volume report along with photographs, animations, and video clips of actual test fires.

Follow this link to learn more about the Memorial Tunnel Interactive CD-ROM & Comprehensive Test Report.

  Phase IV

The test results provide the opportunity to validate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes using actual test data. With CFD, the effects of grade, length, cross-section, and other tunnel characteristics on the capabilities of the ventilation system in fire emergency situations can be analyzed. A validated CFD code, therefore, allows the results of the fire tests to be effectively applied to any tunnel and ultimately expand the value of the test program.

Phase IV of the MTFVTP was established to take advantage of this opportunity. Phase IV involved the development and validation of a CFD model customized specifically for tunnel application. To this end, PB teamed with Innovative Research, Inc. (IRI), a CFD code vendor, to modify and validate an existing code. IRI was tasked with modifying COMPACT-3D, their general-purpose computer program for the analysis of fluid flow, heat transfer, and related processes. The work included the development and implementation of sub-models to address certain required features such as jet fans and tunnel ventilation air duct systems. PB supported IRI's effort while validating the model against the test data.

In 2000, Phase IV culminated with the release of SOLVENT.

  Overview of the Test Program QuickTime Movie  
  Download QuickTime    The following QuickTime movie is a highly compressed,
    low resolution version of the actual "Overview of the Test
    Program" movie found on the Memorial Tunnel Interactive CD.
  You will need the QuickTime Movie Player which is free and downloadable from the link provided above. This video has a playing time of 2 minutes, 28 seconds and may have a download time of up to 7 minutes, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.