Predicting the limiting conditions for the onset of wind-driven fire whirls

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In wildfires, the interaction between wind and fire can significantly intensify combustion with whirling flames which are called fire whirls. Their erratic movement and ability to throw out embers to ignite new fires can lead to cascading hazards. Many details of fire whirls remain elusive, especially the limiting conditions under which wind-driven fire whirls will form at different scales.

Funded by Leverhulme Trust, the Fire and Explosion Modelling Group will develop cutting edge predictive tools based on the in-house modified version of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code OpenFOAM to advance our understanding of the complex interactions that occur during the generation and growth of fire whirls; equip us with the capability to predict the limiting conditions that can lead to fire whirl onset at different scales.

Insight about such conditions will be valuable to predict the possible occurrence of fire whirls under certain weather and terrain conditions, and aid emergency planning as well as the development of mitigation measures. This will be significant for environment protection against extreme conditions like fire whirls.