IMFSE Thesis 3

This is the last blog in the three blogs series about the IMFSE thesis topics, to read blog one press here and to read blog two press here. In this blog, I am going to present the thesis topics that are usually available at Lund University, University of Queensland, University of Maryland and ETH Zurich.

  1. Lund University:


The fire safety department at Lund university is well known with its long history of fire science. The research at the fire safety engineering department focus on three axes of fire safety, namely;

-Fire dynamics.

– Risk analysis and requirements criteria to achieve personal safety and property protection.

– Human Behaviour in fire and evacuation.

Lund university also hosts the fire laboratory, where the all the IMFSE students do their experimental work in the 2nd semester for the pool fire in an enclosure to measure the flame height, smoke layer …etc. The fire lab also has the ability to build specific experimental setups at the workshop if needed.

The fire group at Lund university is led by prof. Patrick van hees and has good co-operations with some big research institutes e.g. SP Sweden. Based on tha, Lund university can offer a wide variety of topics for the IMFSE students each year, for example:

  • In Fire dynamics, ventilation and burning behavior:

– Burning behavior in underventilated cavities (Hosted by SP).

– CFD simulation of enclosure fire with (Semi-)detailed chemistry (Under the supervision of Marcus Runefors)

– Ventilation strategies for tunnels in different countries and consequences (hosted by SP Sweden and supervised by Dr. Haukur Ingason):

With his great experience in tunnel fire, dr. Haukur is supervising one of the IMFSE students to make an overview of the different ventilation strategies in case of fire in a tunnel and to compare the different solution from a theoretical and practical view angle using the appropriate FSE tools.

– Determination of design fires for cables (Under the supervision of prof. Patrick)

This research is experimental, particularly to collect more data about the burning behavior of different types of cables for better understanding and expectation for its burning hazards. The types of cables are too variable and could be found at power plants, chemical plants or tunnels.

– Fire safety of facades (Under the supervision of prof. Patrick)

Due to the recent fires that happened in the high rising buildings especially in Dubi, it is essential for the fire safety researchers to start investigating the flame spread along the exteriors of the buildings, instead of neglecting this hazard. The main objective of such research is to obtain the requirements needed for a screening test for the risk of facades in full-scale tests.

  • In Risk analysis:

– Fire risk index method for cable tunnels (Under the supervision of Dr. Nils Johansson)

The main objective of such topic is to develop a risk index methods for cable tunnels and compare it to other risk analysis methods.

  • In Human Behaviour in fire and evacuation:

– Flashing lights at road tunnel emergency exit portals: A VR study with head mounted displays (Under the supervision of Enrico and Jonathan):

The objective of this research will be to use the interesting Virtual Reality system to investigate the flashing lights at emergency exits and to validate the VR  with headsets results of this study using previous experimental results done using the VR in a CAVE.(Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) setting.

– Particle models for high densities crowd flows (Under the supervision of Daniel Nilson):

The main objective of this thesis will be to study the use of particle models to study the high densities crowd flows(e.g. bigger than 4 people/m^2).These densities are very common in large scale events like festivals, carnivals and metro stations.

* * Lund universities also offers topics for CFD studies and firefighting research (many firefighters who did the IMFSE program did their experimental thesis in the Fire Lab at Lund university).

2. University of Queensland:


The university of Queensland hosts one of the biggest fire labs in Austraila with facilities available to do tests from small- scales to full-scale structures. Available facilities, for example: iCone Calorimeter, Fire propagation apparatus, Mass loss calorimeter, Lage scale heat release analyzer, Radiant burner array and Muffle furnace.

With all these facilities available in the same lab, the student can have many opened horizons to perform fire research and testing. The fire group at the university of Queensland is well known with its research in structures in fire and materials ignition testing, due to the fact that this fire group falls under the umbrella of the civil engineering department a the UQ.

An example of the available topics at the University of Queensland:

– The effectiveness of intumescent coatings under a range of heating conditions (Under the Supervision of Dr.Cristian Maluk):

This experimental study will look at the performance and effectiveness in the charring activation for a variety of existent intumescent coatings under a range of heating conditions. Practical (and explicit) models for calculating the heat transfer to steel during a fire will be developed within the scope of the project.

3. The University of Maryland:


The Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) group at the University of Maryland was established in 1956 and prof. Quintiere who is one of the most widely known fire safety researchers and the past chair of the International Association for Fire Safety Science is one of the corner-stones of the FPE group`s history. Now, the FPE group hosts eight faculty members and prof. Jose Torero joined recently this year coming from the University of Queensland which will be a great and valuable addition to the FPE group.

The FPE team has expertise in all the aspects of fire safety research e.g. CFD, flammability, flame spread, wild-fires, combustion, suppression, structure, detection, egress …etc.

Examples of the offered topics at the University of Maryland:

– CFD Simulations of Fire Suppression by Water Sprays (Under the supervision of Dr. Arnaud Trouve):

The objective of this project is to help develop/evaluate the FireFOAM capability for simulations of fire suppression by water-based suppression systems (including the simulation of turbulent flow, mixing, combustion, spray transport and evaporation, radiative heat transfer). The project considers both sprinkler and mist suppression systems.

– Ignition of Wildland Fuels (Under the supervision of Dr. Micheal Gollner):

The main objective of this project is to do experimental and theoretical research to investigate the intermittent convective heating on fine fuels using a new intermittent gas burner which was developed to intermittently ignite the fine fuels. The results of this research will help inform ongoing work between UMD and the US Forest Service’s Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory to develop a new theory of wildland flame spread.

4. ETH Zurich:


The fire research at ETH Zurich is done also in the department of civil engineering. The civil engineering department at ETH Zurich is ranked the 11th in the world according to the QS world university ranking. Based on that, the quality of the research done at prof. Mario Fontana`s group is uncomparable and is a non-missed experience for the IMFSE students with interests in the structure elements behavior in fire, concrete spalling or timber structures. Prof. Fontana is a former member of the Eurocode drafting team on structural fire design of steel and timber structures so he will be an ideal supervisor of topics related to steel and timber structures in fire.

An example of the topics offered at ETH Zurich:

The effects from Polyethylene (PE) fibers on the explosive spalling of concrete.

By the end of this blog, the reader should have a general overview of the different thesis topics offered for the IMFSE students. One can confidently say that there is absolutely no fire safety program around the globe that can offer this variety of the available universities, topics, and experiences to its students. Generally speaking ” IMFSE rocks”.

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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