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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Short report on the 32nd International Symposium on Combustion - Montreal

by Dr Guillermo Rein, The University of Edinburgh.

More than 1,100 delegates from 40 countries participated in the 32nd International Symposium on Combustion in Montreal where 7 parallel sessions took place with 5 plenaries, 554 presentations and about 330 posters during the five-day long event. The McGill campus and the city of Montreal were brilliant choices for the venue, providing easy international access, the right facilities and a vibrant cultural atmosphere. The organization was flawless.

This was the third combustion symposium that I attended. I found it very interesting - not only because I learnt about some of the latest developments in combustion science but also because I met some extraordinary people. By attending the ISC, I continue on discovering the roots of the combustion community, the reasons for the path taken in the past and its current aims.

The fire group in Edinburgh presented three papers:

. Small-scale forward smouldering experiments for remediation of coal tar in inert media

. Carbon emissions from smouldering peat in shallow and strong fronts

. Transport mechanisms controlling soot production inside a non-buoyant laminar diffusion flame

Judging from the Symposium plenaries and paper presentations that I attended or read (about 40 of them), the combustion research community has largely focused again on the fundamental research of topics like detailed chemistry, turbulence models and engines/turbines. This feeling is confirmed by reviewing the programme where these three topics were the focus of 35-45% of the talks. Of the 12 colloquia that made the programme, one was dedicated to Fire Research, my expertise. In this colloquium, there were 31 presentations and 20 work-in-progress posters on fire topics that included fundamental aspects of fires, flame spread, radiation effects, combustion suppression, and fire and the environment.

At times, I had the impression that I had already been there. Similarities, in general lines, with previous symposium contents were patent. From my point of view, there were not many breakthroughs but a general lack of exciting topics, with a few exceptions like the plenary lecture of Prof. Sawyer on energy and environmental problems, the talk of Dr Linne on ballistic imaging, and others. The Symposium contained little applied research and little new topics (ie. less that 3% of the papers addressed new technology concepts). In the meantime, some of the biggest scientific concerns of our time are directly linked to combustion processes but largely ignored by the combustion community for some reasons. For example, emissions, energy and environmental problems were the focus of less than 1% of the papers.

For the next symposium in Beijing 2010, I personally look forward a wave of stimulating applied research, and fresh ideas from outside the box in addition to new detailed fundamental studies of older topics.

I appreciate the partial financial support of the British Section of the Combustion Institute to attend the symposium.

Dr G. Rein


NOTE I: Parts of this report has been published in the 2009 Spring Newsletters of the British Section of the Combustion Institute and The International Association of Fire Safety Science .

NOTE II: I asked Prof. Sawyer via the Combustion Institute website if we were doing enough given the great importance of the energy and environment combustion problems? He replied by saying "The debate over the Combustion Institute's role, whether to focus solely on high quality science or to venture into advocacy, has been ongoing for decades. Past decisions to avoid advocacy deserve review. The participation of the new generation of combustion scientists in this debate is essential"

NOTE III: The 5 Plenary Lectures of the Symposium can be watch here

Friday, December 26, 2008

Short report on the 9th IAFSS Symposium in Karlsruhe

by Guillermo Rein, BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering, The University of Edinburgh, UK.

NOTE: See announcement on papers and awards at the 9th IAFSS Symposium

The 9th Symposium of The International Association of Fire Safety Science (IAFSS) was the first IAFSS symposium that I attended; it was a positive experience all together.

The venue was a good choice. The city of Karlsruhe is an appealing town that offers very good communications, diverse cultural atmosphere, and decent weather (in Sept at least). The conference centre held all the talks, breaks and poster sessions within a small area that helped the attendees have frequent and extensive interactions. The organization and events were impeccable (congratulations to Dieter Brein and his team).

The audience was largely composed of academics and some industrial presence was noted. I would be interested in knowing with more accuracy the average age of the attendees, but I would venture it was around 45 years old. I attended about 20 or 22 paper presentations. My favourite papers were those presented by Lonnermark, Matala, Koo, Rangwala, Hostikka and Marshall. They all have three things in common; the papers were of high quality, the topic was original and relevant, and the presenter was a promising, young, communicative researcher.

The most interesting Plenary Lecture was clearly that of Andy Buchanan, who provided not only a review of the challenges in the field of structures and fires but also a philosophy to understand the problem. Ingason's lecture on tunnel fires and Hadjisophocleous's lecture on design fires were also good. I was rather disappointed with the presentation of the Howard Emmons Invited Lecture since it did not present much science and I personally barely learnt anything from it.

One of the most engaging and substantial part of the IAFSS symposium were the Sunday workshops. They were held on the Sunday afternoon before the start of the 9th Symposium in Karlsruhe. This was the first time such workshops have been held. The workshop topicc were:

.Flame spread modelling
.Structural fire engineering
.Egress modelling

All three workshops were well-attended and feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. At least the one that I attended (Structural Fire Engineering). We truly had a sincere exchange of ideas from very different views of the problem. Following is a participant's comment on one of the workshops (Structural fire engineering) also published in the IAFSS Spring 2008 Newsletter.

Short Report on the Structural Fire Workshop,
by Allan Jowsey, Arup Fire London

The Structural Fire Workshop organised by IAFSS provided a valuable opportunity for both consultants and researchers in the field to discuss their opinions regarding current practices, techniques and future research opportunities. The workshop provoked good discussion by specifically addressing an issue which relates not only to structural issues, but also fire dynamics and the role that it plays as a fundamental input to structural analyses. It brought together those involved in both sides of the storey as it were - a feature that is commonly lost when a conference creates parallel sessions that effectively separate the two, or indeed separate conferences entirely.

The workshop also provided a good platform for different presentation topics. It was well structured and organised to introduce the topic with an overview of the subject followed by a series of technical presentations and case studies that reflected how the field of structural fire engineering has evolved, is currently being applied in industry and where it may be heading in the future.

Not only did the workshop provide an insight into various aspects of structural fire engineering, but it provided a context into which they could be put. This in itself is valuable for young researchers to appreciate how their work can influence designs in the wider world.

Friday, December 19, 2008

RAE 2008 results: Edinburgh is 3rd UK Engineering

The RAE 2008 results have now been published.

The Fire Group was part of the School of Engineering submission that was ranked 3rd in the UK and 1st in Scotland in research quality and quantity. According to the analysis by Research Fortnight, in terms of total volume of world-leading research in engineering the top 2 are Cambridge and Oxford. Edinburgh is 3rd and Imperial College 4th.

The Head of School said "This is an extremely encouraging result that recognises the quality, scope and volume of research in our interdisciplinary Research Institutes, addressing major research challenges that include Energy, Bio-Engineering and Fire Safety". It is not often that we see energy and bio associated to fire in an multidisciplinary institution with nearly 100 research staff members (!!).

In other disciplines, Edinburgh was ranked at the very top in Computer Science, Chemistry, Medicine, Architecture, Mathematics, Linguistics, English Literature among others.

The RAE is one of two main sources of research money in UK higher education. Sixty-seven panels of 900 experts look at the work of researchers in discipline and award stars. The higher-education funding councils that mount the RAE use this information to award grants to universities.

* UK research funding and RAE issues are better explained in this article of The Economist: University funding. Chronicle of a death foretold, Jun 22nd 2006
From The Economist.

*Clips and more on the RAE 2008 results at University's website (accessible only from the @ed domain).

* An explanation of RAE results in the context of Computer Science is provided here

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paper downloads Aug 07- Nov 08

These are the statistics per paper in our ERA collection in the period in from Aug 07 to Nov 08.

Take a look and see the most 'popular' ones.

Number of downloads per paper

1,836 The behaviour of concrete structures in fire
1,796 Light Steel Framing: Improving the Integral Design
1,595 How did the WTC towers collapse: a new theory
1,560 Fire Size in Tunnels
1,458 Determination of Fire Induced Collapse Mechanisms of Multi-Storey Steel Framed Structures
1,298 Large-scale pool fires
1,188 A Study of Fire Durability for a Road Tunnel: Comparing CFD and Simple Analytical Models
1,072 Multi-story Fire Analysis for High-Rise Buildings
1,071 Fire Safety in High-rise Buildings, Lessons Learned from the WTC
977 Behavior of Structures in Fire and Real Design - A Case Study
950 Performance of concrete in fire: a review of the state of the art, with a case study of the windsor tower fire
822 Model-based analysis of a concrete building subjected to fire
798 Tall building collapse mechanisms initiated by fire
602 BRE large compartment fire tests – characterising post-flashover fires for model validation
577 Fire Size and Fire Spread in Tunnels with Longitudinal Ventilation Systems.
573 A Case Study on Building Specifications
561 Application of Genetic Algorithms and Thermogravimetry to Determine the Kinetics of Polyurethane Foam in Smoldering Combustion
505 Applications of Computer Modelling to Fire Safety Design
491 Collapse scenarios of WTC 1 & 2 with extension to generic tall buildings
456 Characterisation of Dalmarnock Fire Test 1
449 Caractérisation de la fraction volumique et de la température des suies d'une flamme de diffusion établie en micropesanteur
440 Clyde Tunnel refurbishment: Modelling the performance of the new lining system and drainage channel in the event of a fire
436 Development and validation of a generalised engineering methodology for thermal analysis of structural members in fire
419 Modelling of Structures in Fire: An Example of the Boundary Condition
414 Ignition Performance of New and Used Motor Vehicle Upholstery Fabrics
388 The Application of a Genetic Algorithm to Estimate Material Properties for Fire Modeling from Bench-Scale Fire Test Data
377 The contribution of asphalt road surfaces to fire risk in tunnel fires: Preliminary findings
366 Analysis of thermal fields generated by natural fires on the structural elements of tall buildings
349 Application of a generalised engineering methodology for thermal analysis of structural members in fire
342 Treatment of Design Fire Uncertainty using Quadrature Method of Moments
336 Experimental Observations on the Thermal Degradation of a Porous Bed of Tires
327 In-Depth Temperature Measurements of Timber in Fires
312 Characterisation of the Thermal and Chemical Effects of Energetic Materials not Likely to Detonate
290 Development of an engineering methodology for thermal analysis of protected structural members in fire
288 The Risk Imposed by Fire to Buildings and How to Address It
272 Heat and Mass Transfer in Fires: Scaling Laws and their Application
261 Modeling of One-Dimensional Smoldering of Polyurethane in Microgravity Conditions
260 Modelling the Propagation of Forward and Opposed Smouldering Combustion
256 Smoke buildup and light scattering in a cylindrical cavity above a uniform flow
252 Soot Volume Fraction Measurements in a Three-Dimensional Laminar Diffusion Flame established in Microgravity
248 Sooting Behaviour Dynamics of a Non-Bouyant Laminar Diffusion Flame
245 Computational Model of Forward and Opposed Smoldering Combustion in Microgravity
243 Experiments and Observation of Peat Smouldering Fires
231 Evaluation of a Large Eddy Simulation's Applicability to a Worst Case Fire Scenario
219 Multi-story Fire Analysis for High-Rise Buildings
217 Material Properties that Control Ignition and Spread of a Fire in Micro-Gravity Environments
199 The role of secondary char oxidation in the transition from smoldering to flaming
169 Evaluation of the Extinction Factor in a Laminar Flame Established over a PMMA Plate in Microgravity
166 A novel engineering tool for thermal analysis of structural members in natural fires

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fire Investigation & Fire Dynamics CPD courses in 2009

The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering offers the following Continuing Professional Development courses for the spring of 2009:

*23rd Fire Science & Fire Investigation, 30 March - 3 April 2009 [Information]. Well-established and popular course, accredited by the Institution of Fire Engineers.

* 4th Fire Dynamics & Fire Safety Engineering Design, 6 to 8 April 2009 2009 [Information]. Invited speakers from Arup and BRE.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Launched the Edinburgh Fire Alumni group

Dr Allan Jowsey from Arup Fire London has started a group for Alumni, Students and Staff in Fire Safety Engineering from The University of Edinburgh.

The group stands for:
"people who have studied or worked at the University of Edinburgh's fire
research group. The intention of the group is to create a central area
where members can keep in contact and to allow them to see the latest
developments associated with the present Fire Group"

If interested, please register at the link above, you will only need a
Google Groups account.

Also, we are looking for information regarding alumni of Edinburgh...
please pass the word and ask them to contact us.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Demand for fire protection engineers exceeds the supply

According to a recent 2008 study by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, the demand for fire protection engineers is rising and exceeds the supply of qualified personnel. Surveys indicate that this imbalance in demand will continue for at least five more years.

See more at