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Projects currently being researched within FireSERT.

  • Development of advanced PBD method using innovative fire protection material
    Funder: Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy
    Duration: 01 November 2008 – 31 December 2016
    Staff Involved: Dr Seng-kwan Choi, Prof Ali Nadjai

    This project aims to understand the interacting thermal-structural behaviour of a water-based inorganic intumescent-type fire retardant system at elevated temperatures and to evaluate its thermal performance for applications in fire safety engineering. Once exposed to heat, this system undergoes multiple simultaneous phenomena of (i) thermochemical reaction, (ii) formation of internal porous structure, and (iii) movement of external boundaries. Such heat-related combined behaviours are clearly demonstrated from both experimental and numerical approaches. This research program is constructed in four stages: fundamental material tests (utilising thermogravimetric analyse, differential scanning calorimetry, and electronic furnace) and bench-scale fire tests (using cone calorimetry); clarification of thermal boundaries of the intumescent specimen subjected to test apparatus; numerical simulations on mechanisms of heat transmission through porous structures and intumescence; and verification of the proposed numerical solution. The experimental and numerical examinations systematically interpret the overall thermal-structural mechanism, from microscopic characteristics based on thermo-kinetics to macroscopic behaviours based on heat transfer and thermal expansion.


    Development of innovative lightweight and highly insulating energy efficient components and associated enabling materials for cost-effective retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades.

    Funder: EU, Horizon 2020
    Duration: 01 August 2016 - 31 January 2020
    Staff Involved: Dr T Hyde and Dr J Zhang

    Eensulate will aim to develop an affordable, highly insulating and lightweight solution for transparent envelopes to bring existing curtain wall buildings to “nearly zero energy” standards, thereby reducing energy bills while complying with the structural limits of the original building and national building codes.

    FireSERT will work with key industry partners on the development and evaluation of flammability and toxicity of innovative mono-component and bi-components insulation foams used for the installation of glazing systems on building facades. FireSERT will also perform large-scale tests to assess the fire performance of the final complete wall assembly.

  • Energy efficient lightweight-sustainable-safe-steel construction
    Funder: EU FP7
    Duration: 01 Jan 2014 – 01 Dec 2016
    Staff Involved: Prof Michael Delichatsios, Dr Jianping Zhang

    ELISSA targets the development and demonstration of nano-enhanced prefabricated lightweight steel skeleton/dry wall systems with improved thermal, vibration/seismic and fire performance, resulting from the inherent thermal, damping and fire spread prevention properties of carefully preselected inorganic nanomaterials (aerogels, VIPs, MMTs, CNT) and NEMS as well as the development of industrially friendly methods for their application. New computational and design tools for energy efficient, safe and sustainable anti-seismic steel frame lightweight buildings, exploiting nanomaterials and fulfilling relevant EU building codes, will be developed.

    The new ELISSA prefabricated lightweight elements will reach the highest achievable degree of energy efficiency, safety - will be structurally tested and optimized as load bearing elements - and sustainability for steel lightweight buildings through:

    • Ensuring efficiency and structural integrity under thermal, dynamic and fire loads (due to nanomaterial properties, NEMS and design concept)
    • Saving materials, energy and time during construction due to construction concept (pre-fabricated elements -resilient construction that doesn’t need repair in case of lower seismic action)
    • Saving energy during building operation due to materials (multi-functional elements with suitable insulation)
    • Being economic (recycled, re-usable materials, flexibility in architectural design, optimized production-logistics-construction-use chain)
  • Experimental and Modelling Work on Large-Area Fires - Phase 2
    Funder: Atomic Weapons Establishment (UK)
    Duration: 01 Jun 2014 – 31 May 2015
    Staff Involved: Prof Michael Delichatsios, Dr Jianping Zhang

    This project is funded by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) to examine the flammability of modern materials and heat transfer and fire resistance through walls in a deflagration. The main objectives are to:

    • Investigate the response of different walls that are subject to fire (heat flux) and
    • Determine the probability of ignition or collapse of walls as a function of distance from the deflagration centre
    • Examine the probability of fire spread due to heat flux from an ignited building
  • Experimental investigation on sprinkler performance during fire in M&S commercial stores – Part1 & Part 2
    Funder: Mark & Spencer M&S
    Duration: 03 January 2016 – 5 December 2016
    Staff Involved: Prof Ali Nadjai

    The Mark and Spencer requested FireSERT to carry out a series of tests to investigate the effect of a sprinkler system on the growth and spread of a fire in commercial stores having different ceiling heights. The unit shelve carrying clothes was placed at different locations; 1- just below the sprinkler, 2- offset with back orientation to the sprinkler. This request is essential to be investigated and study the effect of the distance between the sprinkler head and top of the unit shelve in order to demonstrate the sprinkler response on the fire. The erected ceiling and sprinkler system were designed and installed by specialist engineers provided by Mark and Spencer to be as consistent as possible with the prescriptive guidance given in BS EN 12845 PLC Sprinkler Rules. The aim is to understand the impact/performance of the sprinklers in commercial buildings and develop alternative solution not existing in the code design.

    Key objectives for the M&S project:

    • To investigate the performance of the sprinkler system in relation to the location of the unit shelve orientation and ceiling heights, not considered in any previous investigations
    • To challenge the clear space, which should be maintained below the sprinkler as, provided by the BSEN 12845 and LPC.
    • To provide research report with evidence changes to legislation, regulations
  • Experimental investigation on typical residential apartment subjected to natural fire: Longboat Quay Development
    Funder: Michael Slattery and  Associates Ltd,  
    Duration: 1 February 2016 – 31 December 2016
    Staff Involved: Prof Ali Nadjai

    FireSERT was appointed by MSA Company to investigate the residential building on  Longboat Quay Development located Dublin. The aim of the experimental test was to investigate the fire performance of the entrance hall construction, with a worst case flashover, ventilation controlled fire in the adjacent room. The fire test did, as far as possible, replicate the scenario found in a typical Longboat Quay apartment, including the known weaknesses in the apartment entrance hall fire resistant construction above the ceiling line.

    Key objectives for the Longboat Quay Development project:

    • To conduct real fire scenarios of full-scale test well instrument and to collect data
    • To demonstrate to Dublin Fire Brigade, that there is no requirement to provide fire stopping in the ceiling voids over the apartment entrance hall enclosures
    • To meet the requirements of the original Fire Safety Certificates for the Longboat Quay Apartment Development
    • To produce research report for policy committee’s contribution and advice to government national level
  • Fire hazards of exterior wall assemblies
    Funder: Fire Protection Research Foundation (USA)
    Duration: 01 Oct 2013 – 30 Sep 2014
    Staff Involved: Prof Michael Delichatsios, Dr Jianping Zhang

    This aim of this project is to develop the technical basis for evaluation, testing and fire mitigation strategies for exterior fires exposing exterior wall systems with combustible components.

    The specific tasks of this project are:

    • Conduct a review of the national fire incident reporting system database as well as other databases and compile information on typical exterior fire scenarios which involve the exterior wall
    • Conduct an informal survey of fire departments and the fire service literature to identify fire incidents involving exterior wall systems with combustible materials to gather further case study information
    • Compile and evaluate relevant test methods and list criteria and other approval/regulatory requirements for these systems
    • Compile the information from Tasks a)‐c) into an information bulletin on combustible exterior wall fire safety
    • Using the results from a)‐ d), identify selected fire scenarios and testing approach for Phase II evaluation of the fire performance of exterior walls with combustible materials
  • Fusion project - Development of bullet resistance timber door
    Funder: Essexford Joinery
    Duration: 01 March 2014 – 01 September 2015
    Staff Involved: Professor Faris Ali

    The project objective is to identify, research & develop, test and refine for production purposes a combined / cross over fire and level 1 & 2 ballistic timber faced door for high end residential, office sector and potentially security/military accommodation market. This under the headings of market need/suitability, materials, physical product structure and composition/design, fire and ballistic testing suitability/requirements, development of a cost effective product for production within existing manufacturing techniques and processes.

  • Improving fire resistance of styrene-based polymers through P-N synergism of reactive fire retardants (FRPR)
    Funder: RSC
    Duration: 01 February 2020 – 31 January 2021
    Staff Involved: Dr Svetlana Tretsiakova-McNally

    This research is funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to support Svetlana’s laboratory work to purchase some specific chemicals and small laboratory equipment. The project is focused on improving fire resistance of styrene-based polymers. The overall aim of this study is to explore the possibility of incorporating nominal amounts of P-monomers, diethyl(acryloyloxymethyl)phosphonate and diethyl-p-vinylbenzyl phosphonate, along with N-monomer, maleimide, into the polystyrene chains with the view to enhance fire retardance and to study its mechanism.

    Key objectives for the (FRPR) project:

    • Synthesis of P-monomers according to the literature precedents
    • Preparation of the control homopolymer, PS, and corresponding co- and ter-polymers with incorporated P- and N- containing moieties, utilising solution and suspension polymerisation techniques
    • Identification of chemical compositions of the obtained co-/ter-polymers by solution-state NMR
    • Study of thermal/thermo-oxidative decomposition, flammability and combustion behaviours of the obtained co-/ter-polymers with the aid of thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), microcone calorimetry (MCC) and bomb calorimetry
    • Elucidation of the mechanisms of fire retardance and identification of P-N synergistic actions of the chosen reactive fire retardants
  • LOCAFIplus - Temperature assessment of a vertical steel member subjected to localised fire
    Funder: Coal& Steel
    Duration: 6 January 2017 – 31 December 2019
    Staff Involved: Prof Ali Nadjai

    LOCAFI+ represents the valorisation project of the RFCS project LOCAFI the main objective of which was to provide designers with scientific evidence that will allow them designing steel columns subjected to localised fires such as those that may be present, for example, in car parks. In fact, at the time being, such evidence, models and regulations exist for beams located under the ceiling, but nothing is available for columns, and this situation may lead to unnecessary and excessive thermal insulation that jeopardizes the competitiveness of whole steel projects.
    Within LOCAFI, number of tests and numerical investigations enabled to gain comprehensive understanding of the involved phenomena and led to the quantification of convective and radiative heat fluxes received by a vertical element (or any other element) subjected to a localised fire. This combination of experimental and numerical investigations also led to the definition of two calculation methods: (i) a quite complex method implemented into FE software and (ii) a simplified method implemented into the existing user-friendly free software OZone and aimed at being introduced into the Eurocodes.
    The technical objective of LOCAFI+ is to disseminate the methodology for the fire design of columns under localised fire to practicing engineers in several European countries by exploiting the results obtained in LOCAFI. The transfer of the developed calculation methods into practice will be achieved by national seminars and clearly structured design manuals.

    Key objectives for the  LOCAFI+ project:

    • Preparation of nomograms, design guide, Powerpoint presentations and adaptation of OZone software
    • Translation activities and preparation of document with legal context and adapted design examples
    • To provide research report published made contributions to policy committees and advice to government national and international level.
    • Seminars and post-dissemination activities
  • New Generation of Precast Concrete Sandwich Panel Façade Resistant to Fires, KTP FireSERT & FP
    Funder: KTP McCann & FireSERT
    Duration: 01 July 2020 – 30 June 2022
    Staff Involved: Prof Ali Nadjai

    The project has been designed to address what is a well-established industry-focused need for developed precast sandwich panel façade systems with advanced construction materials increasing the safety level. Following catastrophic events of the past decade, architects and designers are today in search of sustainable, resilient and smart facades, which are providing the necessary safety. This project responds to the call for smart (active) and transformative construction via an innovative façade system which addresses well-known limitations and safety issues to the wider use as well as overcoming barriers arise from not meeting the required fire standards and regulations. As the objectives are met through every single task described, the project will generate unique knowledge and data (material performance, testing methods, assembly methods/designs, etc.), and strengthen the UK’s market through IP generation.

    Key objectives for the M&S project:

    • To manufacture building components and facades using the concrete systems developed and to investigate the fire performance of the individual components (concrete, insulation and fire retardant protection) and a building façade (thermal property, ignition, flammability, flame and smoke).
    • To conduct Fire Resistance using iso 834 fire cure tests façade system in the large furnace in Ulster University in order to evaluate its performance against the existing product developed.
    • To conduct large scale natural fire scenario of a 9m height panel system in a real building environment to evaluate the holistic performance and resilience of the precast sandwich panel system using the developed product at the company’s site.
    • Numerical studies of the tested precast systems will be performed using Finite Element Method to validate the computational models to further understand their fire and structural performances in order to optimise the structure profile
    • To Develop a fire design rules for current and optimized precast concrete sandwich panel systems
  • Performance of ultra shallow floor beams (USFB) in buildings subjected to fires
    Funder: Vocational College Research Services (VCRS)
    Duration: 2015- 2018
    Staff Involved: Professor Ali Nadjai

    Slimfloor (or integrated beam) construction has become popular throughout Europe in recent years, as it provides a steel-concrete floor construction of minimum depth. This is opposed to traditional composite constructions, which are more efficient for longer spans (> 10 m), Slimfloor construction offers opportunities for steel in span ranges between 5 to 10 m. The key feature of Slimfloor construction is that the steel beams are embedded within the slab depth, resulting in an overall structural depth of between 280 to 320 mm. Typically the floor plate consists of either a composite slab using deep decking, or precast concrete hollow core units, which span between the beams. This type of construction is particularly suitable for square grids. In order to ascertain the structural behavior of slim floor systems, a comprehensive amount of experimental and numerical research has been widely conducted with respect to various aspects, such as the robustness of shear bond formed between embedded steel section and concrete, the contribution of beam-to-column connection, web openings and the flexural section capacity of asymmetric beams.

  • Proof of concept - Smart Fire-Blast Protection system
    Funder: Invest NI
    Duration: 01/12/14 – 01/12/15
    Staff Involved: Professor Faris Ali

    The Smart FBPS (Smart Fire-Blast Protection system) is an invention with enormous applications in civil, anti-terrorism, defense and military sectors. The innovative Smart FBPS aims to provide superior protection for personnel and buildings against blasts and fires at a tenth of the cost of conventional, competing systems. The superiority of the Smart FBPS in blast resisting is supported by a combination of patents which involve the use of a new type of concrete panels which provides unique and efficient “panel thickness/blast resistance” ratio allowing the panels to be produced in a smaller thickness (relative to other products in the market) hence reducing the cost and maintaining the ability to resist a higher range of blast force.

  • Scaling and modelling of soot, heat feedback and burning rate of large-scale hydrocarbon pool fires
    Funder: Royal Academy of Eng - NRCP Newton Res
    Duration: 01 Mar 2015 – 28 Feb 2018
    Staff Involved: Prof Michael Delichatsios, Dr Jianping Zhang

    This study is to investigate the large scale hydrocarbon fires in the presence of winds by combining the wind tunnel experiments in State Key Laboratory of Fire Science (SKLFS), University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), and the theoretical and numerical model developed in Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology Centre (FireSERT) in University of Ulster including their experimental facilities for investigating large fires without wind.. Three key fundamental problems will be solved for large scale hydrocarbon pool fires:

    • Flame shape characteristics (length, tilt angle, surface area, and volume) of large hydrocarbon pool fires in presence of wind.
    • Smoke yield, radiation output and heat feedback to fuel surface of large hydrocarbon pool fires in presence of wind
    • Scaling and modelling of mass burning rate and flame radiation of large hydrocarbon pool fires in presence of wind
  • TRAFIR: Characterization of TRAvelling FIRes in large compartments
    Funder: Coal& Steel
    Duration: 01 April 2017 – 31 December 2020
    Staff Involved: Prof Ali Nadjai

    Many studies of fires in large compartments reveals that they do not burn uniformly throughout the whole area. They tend to travel in the enclosure and thus lead to highly non-uniform temperatures and transient heating of the structure, and such moving localised fires are not considered in the Eurocodes. The main limit in developping travelling fires models is the lack of large scale, realistic test results. This project aims to realize such tests and performing numerical simulations in order to develop an analytical model to define the thermal effect, and design guidance to improve structural safety.

    Key objectives for the TRAFIR project:

    • To perform a real building dimensions and with less control over the dynamics to aim a representation of travelling fire as realistic as possible
    • To provide scientific information allowing determining in which condition a travelling fire will develop (compartment size and geometry, ventilation conditions,…). This will be done using numerical simulations
    • To perform and determine if there is some shadow factor related to multiple fires travelling along a certain axis, i.e. if the depth of the burning area has an impact on the heat fluxes received by a structural element aligned to the propagation axis.
    • To conduct numerical modelling and improve the existing models, especially regarding the temperatures generated, the fire path and the spread
    • Design guidance: redaction of a design guide for the application of the new methodology including design examples