Compartment fire dynamics


The research centred around compartment fire dynamics focuses primarily on fluid mechanics aspects in the gas phase. Interaction with the condensed phase (liquid or solid) is addressed as well, where the multi-phase aspects are covered in detail by Prof Tarek Beji. In the built environment, the use of BIM is also investigated, while the consequences of the impact of fires on structures are studied by Prof Ruben Van Coile, in the field of Structural Fire Engineering.

Compartment fire dynamics

A particular interest is given to the following problems:

  • Detailed CFD simulations of fire-related canonical flows
  • Flame spread over surfaces
  • Compartment fire and smoke dynamics in combination with natural and mechanical ventilation, including air-tight compartments
  • Tunnels: impact of combined ventilation and fixed water-based suppression systems on fire and smoke dynamics
  • Façade fires induced by compartment fires, including the effect of wind
  • Modeling of extinction and re-ignition in fire flames in CFD simulations
  • The use of BIM in relation to fire safety  

Key elements of the modelling strategy

1) Fundamental understanding of the physics

A particular focus is on:

  • Turbulent mixing and the effect on combustion (including extinction and re-ignition) in fire related flows and flames
  • Fire-induced pressure in mechanically ventilated air-tight compartments
  • Heat transfer (convection and radiation) from the gas phase to a liquid or solid surface
  • Interaction between turbulence and chemistry and radiation
  • Fire and smoke dynamics in tunnels, under the combined effect of ventilation and water-based suppression

2) Strong collaboration with experimentalists.

The focus of the research activities is on numerical modelling. Needless to say, experimental data is essential for model development and validation. Therefore, there is very close collaboration with experimentalists, including the efforts related to MaCFP (Measurements and Computation of Fire Phenomena: This enables access to high-quality and well-documented experimental data.

3)  Attention for a balance between accuracy and computational times.  

Fire-driven flows are very complex due to the strong interaction between several aspects of the physics (e.g., heat transfer, combustion) and chemistry, combined with the large domains over which a fire develops. One of the objectives of the proposed modelling is to not (systematically) resort to ‘brute force’ (i.e., heavy computational resources) but to develop models that are suitable for ‘practical compartment fire dynamics simulations’.   


Prof. Bart Merci

Collaboration within the FSSE group

Research projects

  • Systematic study of extinction and re-ignition modelling through finite rate chemistry in LES simulations of buoyant flames
  • Experimental and numerical study of fire dynamics in mechanically ventilated air-tight enclosures (co-supervisor: Prof Tarek Beji)
  • Numerical study on the oscillatory fire behavior in confined and mechanically-ventilated enclosures (main supervisor: Prof Tarek Beji)
  • Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling of water sprays in fire-driven flows (main supervisor: Prof Tarek Beji)
  • Combined Effect of Water Mist Systems and Longitudinal Ventilation on Fire and Smoke Behavior in Tunnel Fires (co-supervisor: Prof Tarek Beji)
  • Data driven approach for evacuation from buildings in fire conditions (co-supervisors: Prof Steven Verstockt and Prof Nico Van de Weghe)
  • Smoke Extraction Duct Systems in Buildings
  • Development of a framework for fire safety measures in elderly homes