Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Inaugural Lecture on Multiscale Modelling of Tunnel Fires

Last Wednesday 1 June, I gave this Inaugural Lecture on Multiscale Modelling of Tunnel Fires at the I Fire Engineering Conference at Universidad Politecnica de Valencia.

The lecture is based on the PhD thesis of Francesco Colella (2010), my second PhD student.

Multiscale Modelling of Tunnel Fires


Tunnels represent a key part of the world infrastructure with a role both in people and freight transport. Past events show that fire poses the most severe threat to safety in tunnels. Indeed in the past decades over four hundred people worldwide have died as a result of fires in road, rail and metro tunnels. In Europe alone, fires in tunnels have brought vital parts of the road network to a standstill and have cost the European economy billions of euros. Within this safety strategy, the ventilation system plays a crucial role because it takes charge of maintaining tenable conditions to allow safe evacuation and rescue procedures as well as fire fighting. Throughout most of a tunnel network the ventilation behaviour may be approximated with a simple 1D flow model. However, there are some important - but relatively small - regions of the tunnel that require CFD analysis. The multi-scale model is the ideal tool for such tunnel studies as it allows accurate flow field predictions in some locations, yet allows simplifications where highly detailed data are not required. It is shown that the accuracy of the multi-scale model is as high as the full CFD approach. The 100 times lower computational time is of great advantage because many ventilation scenarios can be explored and extensive sensitive parametric studies can be conducted.