Facilities - The wildFIRE Lab

wildFIRE Lab Design

The U. Exeter wildFIRE Lab is a specifically designed experimental  laboratory where we can test the flammability of natural fuels.

Flammability is a general term that describes how easily something will burn or ignite, causing combustion or fire. In reality a combination of factors determine the flammability of a material where measurements of a fire’s dynamics are required in order to understand the effects that a fire might have on its surroundings. These factors need to be real measurable quantities and not simply perceived visual relationships.

The wildFIRE Lab comprises equipment that is more typically used in fire safety engineering often used for making our built environment as safe from fires as is possible. Our approach is to use this EU funded facility to understand as much about the flammability of natural plant based materials in order that we can understand the flammability of our planet both in the present and in the past.

The aims being to develop tools for ecosystem management, to understand the role that fire has played in shaping our ecosystems and to quantify wildfire feedbacks to Earth system processes.

Fire Testing Equipment Housed within the wildFIRE Lab Includes:

  • FAA Microcalorimeter
  • iCone Calorimeter
  • Vitiated unit (for variable oxygen experiments) and large cone module
  • Small Smoke Hood
  • Fume Hood
  • Furnace

View of the FTT iCone Calorimeter

The iCone calorimeter measures time to ignition, burn duration and heat release rate of flammable materials

The iCone Calorimeter in use

Standard Analytical Laboratory Equipment:

The wildFIRE Lab also hosts a range of standard laboratory equipment in both the FireLab and a its associated acid-wet lab all necessary for the preparation of modern and fossil samples. Equipment includes for example a wet sediment sieving area, centrifuge, hot plates, ultrasonic bath and analytical balances.

Two Clean Microscopy Suites:

The laboratory further has an adjoining microscopy room for sample preparations and microscopic analysis of charcoals complete with digital image capture and analysis facility. Including low power stereo microscopes (Zeiss Stemi), Olympus transmitted light microscope and a Zeiss reflectance microscope with Tidas analysis system.

Low power stereo microscope with image acquisition

The wildFIRE Lab are the proud owners of the first iCone Calorimeter in the UK

FAA Microcalorimeter

For determining thermo chemical data and predicting fire properties of small samples

Bottled Gas Supplies

The laboratory has fully fitted external gas supplies  (Oxygen, Nitrogen, Compressed Air, Methane, CO/CO2 mix) with gases piped to the laboratory.

All gases can be controlled from within the laboratory to the desired flow rates for experiments and equipment

Full acid processing (wet lab) and smoke extraction fume hoods (FireLab)

High power transmitted light microscope with image acquisition

The wildFIRE Lab has been funded by:

Marie Curie Career Intergration Grant - PyroMap

ERC Starter Grant - ECOFLAM
FP7/2007-2013 / ERC grant agreement n. 335891