IMFSE Thesis 2

Last blog I mentioned the main topics available usually for the IMFSE thesis, this time I will keep writing in the same series of blogs related to the thesis topics, choices and proposals.

To make it as simple as possible, I will talk a bit about every university, its specializations, labs, supervisors and co-operations with industry.

  1. Ghent University:


Being the coordinator of the IMFSE and also due to its unique history in fire safety, Ghent University can offer a wide variety of topics both experimental and computational. However, Ghent is widely known with the computational topics; why not, when it hosts one of the most significant research groups doing fire modeling in Europe. Prof. Bart Merci `s group has many experts in the FDS and also the open foam- which is a bit challenging to learn compared to the FDS- . So, if the student has interest in doing computational fluid dynamics study in fire applications, he/she has to check the available topics at Ghent University.

Ghent also has excellent industrial ties, there is usually topics that are supervised by industrial promoters e.g ISIB fire, FPC and promat.

Example of the purely research based topics:

-CFD modeling of the interaction of smoke and water sprays

In this project, the student is expected to be confident about using the FDS. Typically, the IMFSE students will have a strong background about the FDS from the FDS course at Lund University. There should not be much basic problems to face the student while working on such topic. However, he/she should be able to widen his/her knowledge about some specific parts in the FDS; that will be definitely done under direct supervision from the promoter.

Back to the topic, the student should try to model the fire using hot air (smoke), which will highly affect the computational time. Then to study the penetration of a water spray through a smoke plume, spray cooling effect and influence on buoyancy.

Example of the industrial based topics:

-Modeling and scaled testing of large vehicles

The student shall characterize large vehicle fires and analysis their behavior in a confined space, such as tunnels. Small scale tests will be done at the virtual laboratory of promat and CFD validation at Ghent University. This is a typical validation project where the student can satisfy both his interest in experiments and modeling.

Ghent University offers other projects for example but not limited to:

  • Analysis of experimental data and FDS simulations elderly houses, with co-supervision from ISIB fire.
  • Fire risk analysis for petrochemical industry with co-supervision from FPC Belgium.
  • Structure-based projects like: the reinforced concrete resistance against chloride-induced corrosion with supervision from the civil engineering department at Ghent University.
  • Fundamental study of smoke extraction duct concepts in buildings.

To summarize, Ghent University can offer a wide variety of topics including; structures in fire, risk assessments, large and big scales experiments and of course CFD based projects.

  1. University of Edinburgh


The university of Edinburgh has one of the best civil engineering departments in the UK, U of Edinburgh also is ranked the 24th in the world according to the times higher education world university ranking. Arup group, which is one of the main industrial sponsors of the IMFSE program, has its main office in the UK. Based on that, there is a variety of actively running projects between Arup and the fire/civil group at the University of Edinburgh.

The University of Edinburgh, hosts a big number of fire safety and structures in fire experts; there is also two multifunctional labs:

  1. The fire lab where the students can do unlimited number of fire-based experiments for example:
  • The cone calorimeter: used to study the fire and ignition behavior of various materials. It is an easy tool to measure the mass loss rate, the heat release rate and the time to ignition.
  • The large fume hood: used to conduct pool fire experiments, the fume hood is also attached to a fan to change the smoke layer and an analyzer for the combustion products analysis.
  • The furnace: It can be used to study the spontaneous ignition for different materials, which is also an interesting fire safety topic.

In the fire lab there are also all the needed welding tools, thermocouples, safety tools, a small crane that can be used for the small structure research work and cameras to film the ongoing experiments and can be used for analysis e.g flame height and the smoke layers. It also take some interesting pictures that could be used for nice lab memories 😉 !

  1. The structural lab, this lab is fully equipped with all the needed facilities to perform experiments on heavy structure elements like full scale column. At the structural lab there is a variety of heating panels that can help to conduct experiments on the concrete creep; Live and dead loads can be simulated by the hydraulic presses.

The University of Edinburgh has experts also in the computational fluid dynamics and can easily host students with interest in the FDS. Prof. Stephen welch who has many active projects on the development and validation of computer modeling methods for fire, will be the best one to discuss a FDS based thesis topic at the U of Edinburgh.

All in all, at the University of Edinburgh the students can have a huge number of experimental options in addition to computational ones. Some of these projects are presented as the following:

  • Fire Investigations: this is a very interesting topic, Dr. Rory Hadden has so much experience in this topic from the previous cases done at the BRE center which could be found here here
  • Ignition in wild-fires and the environmental effects: this topic is also done by Dr. Hadden who has done his PhD at the university of Edinburgh and has great experience in pyrolysis, ignition and flammability.
  • Smoke and heat detection on a moving train: Dr. Ricky Carvel who is specialized in the interaction between fires and ventilation specially in tunnel fires, will be the ideal supervisor for such a topic, where the student will have to do literature review about fires in tunnels, quantify the fire on the train that needs to trigger the detection system and do a CFD study of air/smoke mixing.
  • Thermal and Mechanical Response of Structural Cables Subject to Fire: This is an industrial topic proposed and funded by Arup. Prof. Luke Bisby who is Arup professor of fire and structures will be the main supervisor with a co-promoter from Arup. The project aims to study the performance of high strength steel cables in fires and will involve both experimental and computational studies. It is also a non-missed chance for someone with interest in structural designs in fire to work closely with prof. Bisby and benefit from all his unique practical experience.
  • What are appropriate fire intensity measures for structural materials?, What are the mechanical and fuel loads that we are putting in our buildings?: two interesting questions that need a scientific answer. If you are interested you need to talk to Dr. David Rush, who is a lecturer in structural engineering at the University of Edinburgh and was graduated with his PhD in 2013 from the same university. Dr. Rush has experience in engineering consultancy and working on some running projects related to the infrastructure materials in fire loads.

Next blog, I will discuss the topics available at the third full partner Lund university and the other three associated partners the university of Queensland, ETH Zurich and the university of Maryland.

ps: All the thesis topics examples are based on the topics offered last year and it  is just to give an overall sense about the IMFSE thesis topics.


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