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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Short Review of 20th BCC Flame Retardancy Conference, Stamford, June 2009

by Nicolas Bal and Guillermo Rein, University of Edinburgh.

The 20th Annual Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials, was held in Stamford, Connecticut, on June 1-3, 2009. The venue was well chosen (as had been in previous years), specially for its good location near NYC, and nearby airports. The organization was flawless. In total, 35 papers were presented arranged in six sessions (General Papers, Halogen Flame Retardants, Nanocomposites, Industrial Applications, Environmental and Toxicity Issues, and Testing). The audience, about 70 people, came primary from the USA and Europe and a significant fraction were industry representative.

The conference had its two main strengths in the emphasis on the needs of industry, and the diversity of speakers, which allowed to see a broad range of points of view on flame retardants' future (fire, chemistry, new polymer formulas, regulations, toxicity...). However, the majority of the presentations focused on the detailed decomposition chemistry of retardant formulas in small samples (miligrams to grams) rather than on the burning behaviour at the real scale (~kilograms). Maybe, this is partially due to the historical focus of the retardant industry on passing the flammability tests rather than on real-world behaviour, which unfortunately seem to be significantly different.

The Fire Group at Edinburgh was represented by a invited paper (written by Guillermo & Nicolas) in the first session “General papers and reviews”. The talk, entitled “Solid ignition at high fluxes”, presented the numerical results of solid ignition to explain the unexpected trend in the time to ignition at high heat fluxes (up to 200 kW/m²) in PMMA samples. Results support that the mechanism causing this is in-depth radiation absorption.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Marianne Foley on BBC Woman's Hour

On Monday 8th June, the day before she and her team won the 40th MacRobert Award, Fire Group alumnus Marianne Foley was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

You can listen to the interview here [mp3 | 8 minutes | 3.7 Mb].

Many Congratulations!

Many congratulations to Dr Guillermo Rein (the main contributor to this blog!) and Dr Blanca Antizar-Ladislao (our colleague who works in Environmental Engineering) who are both getting married next month; though not to each other! Guillermo and Cecile are getting married in Edinburgh on the 4th of July, while Blanca and Juan are getting married in Spain a week later.
Blanca & Guillermo at the IIE end of term celebration, Wednesday 17th June 2009.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Alumnus wins UK's biggest engineering prize

Former Univ. of Edinburgh Fire Group member Dr Marianne Foley is part of the team that wom the 40th MacRobert Award, the UK's biggest prize for engineering innovation in Arup's visionary Beijing Aquatic Centre, known as the Water Cube.

Dr Marianne Foley is now a Senior Associate and Fire Safety Specialist in the Arup's Sydney Office. She has been awarded for her innovative work on the Water Cube by the National Association of Women in Construction, the Fire Prevention and Fire Engineers Journal in the UK, and also internally within Arup (the Margaret Law Award for Excellence in Fire Engineering).

Marianne graduated with an MEng at the University of Leeds and then joined the University of Edinburgh to do a PhD in Fire Safety Engineering under the supervision of Prof Dougal Drysdale - thesis entitled "The use of small scale fire test data for the hazard assessment of bulk materials". The project was supported by EPSRC and HSE (the Buxton Laboratory). After graduation in 1995, Marianne stayed on for a couple of years as an Research Associate, continuing with the project.

Follow this link to hear Marianne’s interview on BBC Woman’s Hour.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Short Review of 4th European Combustion Meeting, Vienna, April 2009

by Dr Albert Simeoni, University of Corsica and University of Edinburgh.

The 4th European Combustion Meeting (ECM) was held in Vienna on 14-17 April 2009, organised by the Vienna University of Technology.

It covered most aspects of combustion science and technology, from fundamental physics and chemical kinetics (laminar and turbulent flames, combustion diagnostics, gasification, spray and droplet combustion) to energy systems and technological topics (burners, coal & biomass combustion, oxyfuel combustion, fires, fluidized bed combustors).

The conference was attended by more than 300 delegates, including many students. The conference was structured as the previous ECM meetings around poster presentations and plenary lectures only (no paper presentations). Plenary lectures were given on the following topics:
• Co-firing biomass with coal in fluidized bed combustion systems (Prof. Nevin Selcuk).
• High power density engines - combustion diagnostic challenges and solutions in the industrial engine development process (Dr. Ernst Winklhofer).
• Developments and Applications of Laser Techniques for Combustion Diagnostics (Prof. Marcus Alden)
• Detailed Chemical Kinetic Mechanisms for Combustion (Dr. Henry Curran).
• Chemical Looping Combustion: The Answer to Sequestering Carbon Dioxide (Dr. John S. Dennis).

I found two main advantages in this meeting: the number of delegates and the discussions in front of the posters. The number of delegates – covering almost all topics and research groups involved in combustion in Europe and aboard – made the work presented very diverse and of high quality. The 2:30 long posters sessions, with the possibility to walk around six different exhibitions classified by topic, allowed having good discussions with new and fresh ideas as the work was often presented by PhD students.

The Group in Edinburgh was represented by the work on forest fires conducted in collaboration with the University of Corsica. At the beginning of the fire session, few people stopped at the poster and of these, many were surprised to see such an original topic (forest fires) in ECM. However, after an hour, when people seemed to had seen what was presented in their own topics of expertise, they came back with plenty of questions on our poster and we had good discussions until the end of the session.

This meeting allowed us to have a global and updated view on the work conducted in Europe and very good interactions. The only regret is related to the organisation as some aspects of it, for example the registration procedures and the catering, did not match our expectations.