Unique experiments and innovation

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Department Research Areas

Our faculty members and students work within nine core research areas, listed below. For information on related graduate programs, visit the Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy pages. 

Fire Behavior

FPE experiments measure detailed properties of laminar diffusion flames to better understand their behavior... and that of large turbulent fires. 

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Fire Suppression

FPE researchers develop tools to characterize and improve spray patterns, including fire sprinklers and other fire suppression nozzles. 

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Fire Simulation and Computational Modeling

Using computer models, FPE researchers simulate the movement of fire, smoke and heat through various structures, and estimate the response time of fire-safety devices.

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Fire Detection

FPE researchers conduct studies to improve fire detection methods, including the development of a multi-sensor detector prototype for traditional smoke sensors, heat sensors and gas sensors.  

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Evacuation Analyses

Understanding human behavior, and how people use various components of egress routes, are key to ensuring people exit a building safely in the event of an emergency.  FPE studies quantify egress usage and decision-making to improve building design.

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Materials Flammability

Understanding how materials - such as plastic and refrigerants - react to fire is critical for ensuring safety of the built environment. FPE researchers study physical and chemical processes to guide development of novel, fire-safe materials.

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Smoke Movement and Control

FPE research involves estimating amounts of smoke production - a prerequisite to determining exhaust capacities of venting systems in large spaces, such as atria and arenas.

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Fires in Microgravity

FPE faculty members have developed several experiments currently being conducted in microgravity aboard the International Space Station.

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Wildland Fires

An improved understanding of firebrands is crucial to protecting against wildland fires - FPE researchers recently developed a diagnostic that measures temperatures of burning embers with a digital camera. 

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Emerging Hazards

FPE researchers study the energetics and dynamics of failure processes in Lithium-ion batteries - commonly used in household items - and their reaction to the chemical composition and structure of Li-ion cells.

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