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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Review of the 6th Mediterranean Combustion Symposium

The 6th Mediterranean Combustion Symposium was held in Porticcio, Corsica (7 – 11 June 2009 and was organised by the Universitiá di Corsica Pasquale Paoli.

The conference was well attended by 197 (mostly academic) delegates from institutions all around the world. Topics included many of the usual in combustion science including turbulent combustion, solid fuels, propulsion and engines, pollutant formation, reaction kinetics and new combustion technologies. There were also sessions on applied research in the fields of fire and explosions and forest fires. There was a strong emphasis during the conference on bridging the gap between fundamental combustion research and applied forest fire research.

This was realised by a special workshop session as well as 3 sessions of talks on forest fire research throughout the week. These brought together the combustion, forest fire and fire safety communities to address some of the open questions in the field. The workshop included talks from the leaders in the communities who detailed their concerns and their views on the direction in which they felt the field should be taken. It focussed heavily on the work needed to create robust models to predict wildfire spread. The key aspect that came from this session was the need for the research to unite and determine a common framework within which individual research could be undertaken. However, it seems a leader has yet to emerge.

Many of the presentations in the forest fires sessions were the highlight of the symposium presenting new approaches to modelling. Of particular originality was the paper by Rossi et al. on the use of stereovision to determine geometric fire front characteristics imaging of wildfires. Another excellent paper was written by Pérez et al. on the use of infrared data to determine the effectiveness of aerial forest fire suppression.

The plenary lectures generally focussed on detailed research on the state of the art of combustion research. An excellent talk was given by Prof. Hai Wang of the University of Southern California in which he presented a novel use of combustion in the production of dye sensitised solar cells. Such work provides an accessible and novel contribution of combustion science to relevant problems.

It was reassuring to see some papers presented by young researchers in the early stages of their careers. I hope that this continues to allow new ideas to propagate through the field and allow new collaborations between many research groups. Young researchers were again well represented in the poster session which gave a broad insight into the early stages of a wide range of combustion research.

In general, the conference was a success. Though very academic in nature with few delegates from industry, strengthening these links could allow for more novel applied research to be undertaken allowing the community to grow. The location and hospitality were excellent (especially the food) and the timetable was well designed allowing plenty of time between sessions to allow discussions and networking (as well as trips to the beach!).

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