The Science of Fire   Fully Booked

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Technical lecture
25 September 2019 18:00 - 20:30
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How does a fire start, spread or destroy? And what can we do about it? Fire is the greatest discovery in human history, and there is certainly within each of us an ingrained fascination with flames.

From keeping our ancient relatives warm whilst preparing their first cooked meals, to the 19th century industrial revolution, our ability to start and manage fire has been crucial to human development.

However, our history as fire masters originates not just from a sense of curiosity and opportunity but also concern, wariness and fear of its destructive nature.

In the modern world, fire engineers are heavily involved in the selection and design of much of what surrounds us, our habitats, furniture, electronics and modes of transport to name a few.

And yet fire remains a hazard and threat to life, and there is still much to learn about how it ignites, how it spreads, how it produces smoke and how it can be suppressed.


The purpose of Professor Guillermo's work is to reduce the worldwide burden of accidental fires and protect people, their property, and the environment. His research portfolio is ample, but over the last 15 years he is best known in three areas: 1) how polymers and wood ignite so we can avoid fires from starting; 2) how engineers can design better structures that resist fire; and 3) how wildfires spread and how to fight them. He leads the research group Imperial Hazelab, which currently counts on 3 postdocs and 12 PhD students. The group is funded by a range of sponsors, most notably Arup, BASF, EPSRC, and the European Research Council (2015 Consolidator Grant). He has been featured in international media (e.g. Financial Times, BBC Radio, New York Times). He is very passionate about outreach in engineering, and has appeared in the 2017 documentaries 'Titanic: the New Evidence' and 'The Great Fire of London: In Real Time'.


Guillermo Rein is Professor of Fire Science at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Imperial College London and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Fire Technology. His research is centred on heat transfer, combustion and fire.


*Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
1 Birdcage Walk
United Kingdom

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