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Emerging risks from smoldering fires (EMRIS)

Project financed by the Norwegian Research Council/SHP (ref. 238329).
Project period: 01.01.2015-31.12.2017
Research Council project database: link


A research project on Smoldering Fire as a phenomenon, the risks and dangers associated with these fires, and ways to prevent and combat them.


Smoldering is a flameless form of combustion. It is initiated at relatively low temperatures, operates at intermediate temperatures, and smoke is produced. Smoldering is difficult to detect - and is frequently a precursor of flaming fire (at high temperature) and explosions. Therefore, it represents a hidden danger in many situations: for dwellings, for stored biomass, for powders and grains in silos, for stored industrial waste, for goods under transportation.

The smoldering process is complex: It is governed by a self-tuned balance between air entering and smoke leaving the reaction zone, heat generated and heat lost (transported) to the surroundings - and depends in addition on geometry, material chemistry, etc. Furthermore, the distribution among various chemical reactions during the oxidation (smoldering) process is coupled to the temperature and the gas and heat flows.

Many materials are prone to smoldering, but properties and crucial parameters are in many cases unknown. New industrial settings with a potential for smoldering keep emerging.

EMRIS will aim at improving the knowledge both on smoldering mechanisms and on properties of relevant materials: We will study experimentally the influence of geometrical details on the transition from smoldering to flaming fire, and we will measure characteristic quantities for several materials of importance industrially.

Self-ignition is a major concern. When stored, self-ignition may occur in (organic) materials as a result of heat buildup due to chemical or biological processes. Based on project results, we will make systematic predictions for cases that hardly are accessible experimentally, due to sample sizes and time scales.

Emergency management
Finally, we will study emergency management both for smoldering fires and worst-case scenarios with transition to extensive fires.

Scientific partners

EMRIS will be carried out jointly by

  • University of Magdeburg, Germany
  • University of Lund, Sweden
  • Stord/Haugesund College, Norway


EMIRS has durable scientific collaboration (and contracts) with

  • Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • SP Fire Research, Trondheim, Norway

Industry partners

  • Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap (DSB)
  • Finans Norge (FNO)
  • Stiftelsen Norsk Brannvernforening
  • Riksantikvaren (RA)
  • Norsk Treteknisk Institutt
  • Brannfaglig Fellesorganisasjon (BFO Brann)
  • Hallingdal brann- og redningsteneste iks

Throughout the project, we will discuss with - and give information to - industry partners. For these partners, smoldering fire is potentially a challenge.

EMRIS-banner med glødende kull
Foto: Ragni Mikalsen/EMRIS


Four Ph.D.-students will finish their degrees under EMRIS: one in Magdeburg, one in Lund, and two in Haugesund.

Master students
EMRIS has resources to support students working as research assistants for the project in the lab in Haugesund.

Visiting scientists
Senior scientists able to contribute to EMRIS will be invited into the project for shorter or longer periods. For these periods, EMRIS covers their salaries and expenses from travels and stay.

EMRIS has arranged a workshop for its staff and industry partners in Magdeburg, March 2015.

Contact information

Project leader: Professor Vidar Frette, Stord/Haugesund University College

Sida ble sist oppdatert: 22.11.2016