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News & Press: SFPE News

SFPE Foundation Awards Research Grant to Frantz Richter of Imperial College London

Thursday, May 11, 2017  
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The SFPE Foundation is pleased to announce the awarding of a research grant to Frantz Richter, a doctoral candidate at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, for his work in understanding the charring behavior of timber under credible fire scenarios. The $5,000 grant is the maximum the Foundation fund permits (25 percent of the total value of the request).


Richter’s study focuses on the creation of a toolkit to more accurately predict the charring rate of timber, thereby helping fire engineers and regulators assess the safety of proposed building designs. Work on the study will be carried out in part through a collaboration between Imperial College London and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Richter will travel to Ann Arbor to work with Arvind Atreya, professor mechanical engineering at University of Michigan, and an expert in the charring behavior of wood. Together, they will create a one-dimensional computational pyrolysis and combustion model at the micro (mg samples) and mesoscale (kg samples).


“Traditionally, the fire resistance of timber has been measured by how long it can withstand the standard fire in a furnace, without losing its load bearing ability,” Richter says. “There has been an increasing trend toward a more performance-based approach in structural engineering by using more realistic fire curves.”


Success in the study will also contribute to one of Richter’s larger professional objectives: the protection of large timber buildings from the threat of fire. Such protection is crucial to the creation of sustainable buildings.


Prior to pursing his PhD through the Imperial College London, Richter received a Master of Engineering from the College in 2015. His master’s thesis is on the charring rates of timber elements in traveling fires. Within the first year of his PhD work, Richter’s research resulted in five conference communications, one accepted journal paper, and two more nearly completed.


“Frantz’s background in computational modeling, heat transfer, and fluid dynamics is very strong, both on a fundamental and advanced level,” says Richter’s research supervisor Dr. Guillermo Rein, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Imperial College and editor in chief of Fire Technology. “I consider him an outstanding young scientist, brilliant with an inquisitive mind, and eager to contribute to the state of the art in science and technology.”


The Foundation’s research grants are awarded to support baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral student research projects in fire safety science or fire protection engineering. A condition of funding is that research must result in a publishable paper. That paper will be made available on the SFPE Foundation website upon completion.


For more information about the grant, or to make a donation to the SFPE Foundation, visit the Foundation website.

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