Pushing the boundaries of fire modelling

Modern structures including tall buildings and those with large or complex internal spaces present a significant challenge to fire safety engineers. Traditional methods developed for smaller compartments are often invalid, whilst alternative approaches exploiting fire safety engineering tools for performance based design are challenged by the complexity of the evolving fire conditions. In this the interaction of ventilation conditions with fire development is a critical element, with the phenomena of travelling fires resulting from the evolution of fuel burn-out in large compartments, and when there is progressive failure of the glazing. When conditions in the fire compartment become heavily under-ventilated, the lack of sufficient air gives rise to fundamental changes in the combustion process with incomplete conversion of the fuel and associated generation of many toxic species. Simulation of these processes is very challenging for even the most advanced computational models of fire, yet their impacts are important from a life safety perspective.

To investigate these fire phenomena a unique series of full-scale fire tests have recently been performed at the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering. A key aim was to generate high quality data to support the validation and development of advanced computer models for fire, thereby improving design methodologies for modern infrastructures. The tests were a systematic exploration of the parametric space of real fire conditions, spanning fixed location and "travelling" fires, varying fire atmospheres ranging from fully ventilated to heavily under-ventilated, and using different fire sources which are either fixed size or "developing", generated with gas burners and wood cribs, respectively. Model validations will be conducted "blind" and later with test results revealed, to explore the capabilities of state-of-the art fire simulation tools. It is expected that the existing models will provide good reproduction of the fire conditions for the simpler scenarios but will eventually breakdown for more challenging fire conditions, particularly the under-ventilated combustion and in predicting the fire development on the wood cribs. Identification of model capabilities and limitations is a vital step in the further development of appropriate simulation methodologies, and essential in providing reliable guidance for fire safety engineering practitioners. The project would be part of the larger research work on "Real fires for safe design of tall buildings".

Further Information: 

Closing Date: 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
A large compartment growing fire in the Fire Laboratory
Experiment with fire at the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline (Mechanical Engineering, Physics or Chemistry), possibly supported by an MSc Degree.

Enthusiastic and self-motivated candidates are sought with a background in combustion.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Strong candidates may be considered for full EPSRC funding - open to UK/EU candidates only.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: