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Fire Dynamics and Material

The main objective of the Fire Dynamics and Material Lab is to explain the primary nature of how molecules interact with fire retardants, from this study we wish to to evaluate and find new fire retardants appropriate for each polymer.

Both experimental and computational approaches are employed in a manner that encourages the constant interplay between the two for purposes of model validation, direct measurement of critical parameters, and identifying new hypotheses to be tested through experiment.

Computational methods are employed at multiple length scales including large eddy simulations for turbulent burning and radiation, pyrolysis modeling and molecular dynamics simulation.

Single molecule (molecular dynamics, quantum chemistry) studies are also used, often through collaborations with other scientists (Australia).

Investigations of enclosure and facade fires are being done in collaboration with Japan and China.

Specific Research Programmes

Fire Dynamics and Flammability research at Ulster University is centered around understanding and modelling the initiation, growth, development and extinction of fires in the open and in enclosured spaces in relation to key flammability properties of materials, components and assemblies.

Our aim is to obtain a correlation of fundamental flammability and extinction material properties with fire growth physical and chemical phenomena in real fire situations through dynamic similarity and numerical modelling.

The activities and objectives of Fire Dynamics research support the following:

  • evaluation and design of fire safe materials
  • improved fire safety and risk design for buildings and infrastructure ( tunnels and transport) and building code revisions.

The activities and objectives of the Fire Dynamics research are:

  • to completely characterize the material flammability and extinction properties and the physical and chemical processes that affect to fire growth so that adhoc approval tests are not necessary.
  • to apply these results to Fire Safety Design and Risk Analysis for a) the specification of realistic design fires including heat fluxes b) smoke and toxic / corrosive products distribution and dispersion and c) active fire protection ( sprinklers, mist, gas, foams) design.

To achieve these objectives the following specific research areas are currently pursued based on the previous extensive work of Fire Dynamics

Research group:

  1. Design of a new controlled atmosphere flammability apparatus where all fundamental material flammability ( including toxicity) and extinction properties can be measured including those affecting concurrent flame spread, counter current flame spread, soot formation and flame radiation. Advanced measuring techniques are employed including infrared cameras, CCD cameras, FTIR, gas analysis probes, laser pyrometry and laser extinction, PIV measurements and Schlieren imaging.
  2. Algorithms to extract these properties from the measurements in the new flammability apparatus as well as in the standard flammability cone calorimeter apparatus. This work is an extension of comprehensive research over the last ten years at FireSERT.
  3. Fundamental fire retardancy mechanisms for polymers including nanometallic materials based on the detailed characterization of their flammability and extinction properties.
  4. Emission of PAH ( Polycyclic aromatic Hydrocarbons), trace elements and VOC ( Volatile Organic Compounds) under variable fire ventilation conditions.
  5. Application of these measurements to understanding and predicting via fire dynamic modelling the fire growth in enclosures such as the ISO room corner test and the SBI corner test as well as in external facade fires that all can be conducted in the new FireSERT facilities for validation.
  6. Development of experiments and modelling to assist in the specification of design fires for various fuel loads and fuel distribution including flashover fires in enclosures having combustible linings and flooring material and glazing.
  7. Quantification of convective and radiative fire heat fluxes in enclosures and in the open for safety and structural analysis.
  8. The influence of the framing, fixings, overpressures and incident fluxes on full-scale glazing assembly failures.
  9. Interaction of ventilation with fires (as in clean rooms and pressurization) using detailed measurements of concentrations and velocities.
  10. Experiments and modelling of fires in tall enclosures and in the external facade of a building using the 10MW calorimeter.
  11. Extinction mechanisms by gaseous agents and liquid nitrogen.
  12. Combination of deterministic/ probabilistic modelling for risk analysis.

The combination of unique experimental and modelling facilities and methodologies makes the objectives of Fire Dynamics research at FireSERT unique and sure to contribute to reducing the cost of fire safety design without compromising safety by assuring safer products, safer buildings and safer communities. Moreover, the Fire Dynamics group consists and is driven by world wide known fire research scientists assisted by a dedicated team of young scientists, engineers and graduate students.


Fire Dynamics and Materials Laboratory (FML)

FireSERT Institute at the University of Ulster

Contact : Professor Michael A. Delichatsios

Tel: 028 9036 8702


  • Evaluation and improvement of material fire performance for flammability, toxicity, fire resistance and fire suppression.
  • Identification and improvement of fire retardant properties.
  • Accurate fire hazard quantification for buildings, transportation and industry based on material fire data.


  • Fire testing at the new FireSERT facilities including advanced flammability and TGA apparatus , intermediate scale (ISO room and SBI tests ) and large scale testing ( 10 MW calorimeter and Resistance Furnaces)
  • CFD and Physical Models to interpret test results for material and product improvement and fire hazard quantification

Customer Benefits

  • Comply with local and international standards for materials and products or demonstrate required performance.
  • Improve fire performance of materials and products by using appropriate fire retardant additives
  • Provide accurate fire hazard quantification for fire safety design, fire suppression and fire risk assessment.

Track Record

  • Timber flammability
  • Glazing performance in fires
  • Flooring material performance
  • Fire retardant evaluation
  • Fire fighters protective clothing
  • Fire Investigation
  • Fire doors
  • Lightweight drywall partitions
  • Fire resistance of building products