Saturday, 30 May 2015

Research grant on travelling fires with Michigan

Egle Rackauskaite, PhD student
at the Imperial Hazelab.
I am delighted to announce that we have won a research grant from SFPE that will fund our summer collaboration with the group of Prof. Ann Jeffers at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

As we speak, my PhD student Egle Rackauskaite is at Ann Arbor working for the summer. She will use the SFPE Foundation Student Research Grant to continue the development of the pioneering design concept of 'travelling fires'.

Innovative architectural designs of new high rise structures already pose a challenge to engineers. This is above all the case in structural fire protection engineering. Understanding of fundamental mechanisms of whole building behaviour in fire has significantly increased in the last decades; however, most of this understanding is based on the assumption of uniform fires in a compartment. Recent work has shown that while the uniform fire assumption may be suitable for small enclosures, the large, open-plan compartments, typical of modern architecture, do not burn simultaneously throughout the whole enclosure. Instead, these fires tend to move across the floor plates as flames spread, burning over a limited area at any one time. These fires are referred to as travelling fires.

A travelling fire is a structural design concept that accounts for the spread of the flames along a large compartment. This creates two dynamic heating regimes to any structural element; the quick but intense heating by the direct impingement of the flames (near field), and the slow but limited heating by the smoke (far field).

Travelling fires challenge the design assumptions made in most design codes. Understanding the effects of travelling fires on structures is important for the development of modern cities with increased resilience to fire. Our work offers a paradigm shift in the structural engineering of modern buildings, and is directly impacting the way industry designs modern infrastructure and has already been applied to design a dozen iconic buildings in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

More information on travelling fires, see:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Hazelab group photo

From left to right, in this group photo we have: Xinyan Huang (3rd year PhD student), Francesco Restuccia (1st year PhD student), Egle Rackauskaite (2nd year PhD student), Nicolas Ptak (intern), Virginia Alonso (postdoc) and Guillermo Rein (supervisor).
Unfortunately, two members were away from London on the day of the photo-shoot, Izabella Vermesi and Nils Roenner who were visiting their research sponsors in Boston and Ludwigshafen respectively.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Welcome Virginia to Imperial Hazelab

Dr Virginia Alonso has joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London as postdoc in my research group, Imperial Hazelab.

Virginia is from Santander, beautiful city in the North of Spain. She graduated with an MSc in Physics and an PhD in Fire Evacuation Modelling at University of Cantabria, Spain, as member of the GIDAI group. She has also been a visiting scholar at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST).

At Hazelab, she is involved in the project N-LAYERS to conduct a study and write a white paper where a holistic view of fire protection engineering is created, and the role of prevention is examined. Fire safety is made of a series of layers (e.g., prevention, fuel control, passive and active systems, evacuation, and structural response). All layers have a role in fire safety, but not all layers are equally important, effective or costly. In this project, Virginia aims to study in-depth the role of prevention in a systemic view of fire protection.