Kyle McCoy Science Fair Project Burn Baby Burn Physical Science Kyle McCoy Statement of the Problem If your home were to catch on fire, which type of wood would burn the slowest and give you the best chance to get out of your home safely? Project Overview What I wanted to do in this project was to find out if different types of wood had different burn rates, and then determine which type of wood is the most resistant to fire and therefore might be the best wood to use to build furniture. Research I looked at the types of flame and ways you could build a fire. I also learned at what temperature wood burns. I learned about the forestry industry and the process of getting wood from the tree to making the table where I eat dinner. I learned about the different types of wood and what they are used for. I learned which types of wood are most commonly used in household furniture and which types of wood are used for home construction and outdoor play areas. I learned about wood density and which types of wood are most and least dense. I also learned how the density of wood might affect how quickly or slowly it burns. I found out about wood treatments; why they are used and how they might affect the burn rate of wood. Variables Independent variable: The species of wood is my independent variable. Dependent variable: The amount of mass left from the wood is my dependent variable. I weighed the wood before it was burned and after it burned to determine how much of the wood was left after burning for seven minutes. Constant variables: (1) the pattern I used when I place the wood on the tray and then set it on the grill. (2) the temperature of the grill (3) the grill itself because it had three sides so I could keep the wind out, and it had a cover so nothing could affect how the wood burned except the temperature of the grill (4) I stopped and started the stop watch in the same way for each species of wood Control group: I used pine wood as the control group because it is the most commonly used wood in homes. Hypothesis My hypothesis is that the wood with the least density will burn the fastest with the smallest amount of mass left. The wood with the greatest density would burn the slowest and have the largest amount of mass left over. I predict that as the density of the wood increases, the speed of the burn will decrease and the mass remaining after burning for seven minutes will increase. Materials Wood: White Oak, Walnut, Sassafras, Pine, Aromatic Red Cider, Black Cherry, and Hard Maple (more commonly known as Sugar Maple.) For each species of wood I used a total of eight (8) pieces. Four (4) pieces measured 21 cm x 2.5 cm x 1.25 cm, four (4) pieces measured 14 cm x 2.5 cm x 1.25 cm, and three (3) pieces measured 9 cm x 2.5 cm x 1.25 cm. In preparation for the experiment, all wood had been dried in the sun for a full day to eliminate difference in moisture content. Fire extinguisher Safety goggles Grill Grill thermometer Metric balance scale Tin foil Sharpie Wire Mesh tray Procedure 1st weigh each species of wood to get its mass and record it on the chart 2nd heat up the grill to ‘high’ or 350 degrees Centigrade, use a grill thermometer to accurately monitor the heat of the grill 3rd after heating the grill, select the first species of wood; arrange it into a specific pattern which allows for plenty of air flow throughout the wood and place it on the metal tray 4th put your tray onto the grill and close the lid and start the stopwatch 5th at the first sight of smoke, check your stopwatch and record the time on the chart 6th at the first sight of flame check your stopwatch and record the time on the chart. Then lift the lid of your grill, so the grill doesn’t get too hot, and wait seven (7) more minutes 7th record the time when no more flames are seen. Note it like this 7:45.00 8th when the seven (7) minutes are up take some tin foil and write down the name of the wood which has just burned and carefully take out the tray and dump its contents onto the tin foil. Wrap the material carefully and set it where it can cool completely. 9th repeat steps 1, 3-8 for each species of wood 10th after wood remains have fully cooled, weigh each species of wood wrapped in tin foil to obtain the mass of the remaining wood. Be sure to subtract the weight of the foil. Allowing the wood to cool completely before weighing allows for a more accurate weight measurement. 11th Record the weight of the remaining material on the chart. Subtract the remaining weight from the original weight and determine the percentage of weight remaining. 12th Complete the graph showing how quickly each species of wood burned and how much mass each species had remaining. Photos Placing the wood in a pattern and preparing it for the grill. Ready to start the fire. Wrapping up the remains after it has finished burning. Wood after it has been burned. Recording the data. Ready to go on the grill. This is the pattern I used for each species of wood. Wood engulfed in flames. Checking the fire. Setting the stop watch. Data/Observations (Analyzes) Time Time Time No Total Beginning Ending Grams Percent Smoke Flame Flames Time Wood Species Mass (G) Mass (G) Lost (G) (%) Appears Appears Seen Burned Black Cherry 329.3 65.95 263.35 79.97% 06:06.28 16:34.56 20:23.30 03:48.74 Walnut 339.9 65.95 273.95 80.59% 06:06.41 10:23.10 16:23.00 05:59.90 White Oak 377.3 72.99 304.31 80.65% 03:23.97 15:57.76 20:24.00 04:26.24 Aromatic Red Cedar 232.2 40.39 191.81 82.60% 02:46.50 08:12.00 11:26.00 03:14.00 Sassafras 260.1 44.2 215.9 83.00% 02:51.97 06:17.00 10:06.00 03:49.00 Yellow-Popular 295.7 48.25 247.45 83.68% 04:34.66 08:52.72 13:21.00 04:28.28 Hard Maple (sugar maple) 285.5 44.49 241.01 84.41% 02:18.88 06:56.12 10:31.00 03:34.88 Pine 222.1 33.75 188.35 84.80% 01:45.10 07:08.25 09:35.00 02:26.75 The graph shows that the wood with the greatest mass (Black Cherry) took the longest amount of time to catch fire and had the most mass (shown as a % of mass lost) left after burning for seven minutes. It shows that the wood with the least amount of mass (Pine ) had the least amount of time to show smoke and was one of the quickest species to show flame. It also lost the greatest amount of mass during the burn. The graph also shows that the time of burn varies from species to species and does not directly relate to the mass. For instance, Sassafras was the species which caught on fire the quickest, yet was in the mid-range with regard to mass. So, I would have to say the results are inconclusive. Conclusion The wood with the smallest mass had the least amount of material left after the burn and the wood with the greatest mass had the most material left after the burn proving my experiment somewhat true, although the rates of burn are not directly related to the mass of the wood. The graph does not show specifically that the greater the mass of wood the longer it will take to catch on fire. I think, in general, the greater the mass the slower the rate of burn, but I think there are a lot of exceptions. I also discovered that although the wood with the greatest mass burned the slowest, the time difference wasn’t very significant, so I doubt that selecting a type of wood that is very dense would really make much difference with regard to keeping your family and your home safer from fire. Possible Experimental Errors It would be easy to miscalculate the times by misreading the watch, getting distracted or pressing the wrong button on the stop watch. It is very important to be precise with regard to the stopwatch. Also, it is very important to use a sensitive scale when weighing the wood both before and after the burn. Applications and Recommendations I would recommend using a very strong pair of goggles because the smoke can be very irritating to your eyes. Also, try to pick a day with little or no wind to conduct this experiment. Even though my grill had three sides and a cover, the wind could still affect the results if it was strong enough. I was hoping to show that one particular wood was much safer for your home, but what I found was that although different types of wood had different burn rates, the differences were so small that it really wouldn’t make much of a safety difference. So, I would recommend using whatever type of wood you would like in your home. Works Cited "Burning of Wood." VTT Virtual Project Pages. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. <http://virtual.vtt.fi/virtual/innofirewood/stateoftheart/database/burning/burning.html>. "FireQ&A." Environmental Alternatives. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. http://www.enviroalternatives.com/http://virtual.vtt.fi/virtual/innofirewood/stateoftheart/d atabase/burning/burning.html>. Foxworthy, Drew. "Wood." Telephone interview. 23 Jan. 2011. My uncle is a Procurement Forester at Brown Foreman Cooperage. He has had this job for three and one half years. He has been involved in the wood industry for over thirty years. He gave me information about the types of wood and the treatments of wood and what properties of wood might affect how it burns. Jackson, Albert, and David Day. Good Wood Handbook. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Publications, 1996. Print. Mackey, Susan, Dale Baker, John W. Bartok Jr., and James P. Lassoie. "Burning Wood - Which Is the Best to Burn?" The Fireplace Channel - Chimney, Hearth & Fireplace Information. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://www.thefireplacechannel.com/burningwood.html>. Seymour, Rick. "Fire Types, Firewood Wood Types." Traditional Scouting: Boy Scout Activities B-P Scouts Scuba Diving Merit Badge. 01 May 2005. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/b-p/wb/fires.htm>. "Sustainable Wood." Borax. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <http://www.borax.com/wood/pdfs/sustainablewood.pdf>. "Temperatures in Flames and Fires." Fire Science and Technology Inc. Home Page. Fire Science and Technology Inc., 25 Feb. 2006. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. <http://www.doctorfire.com/flametmp.html>.
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