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The fire modeling community is actively working to develop the tools needed to quantitatively predict material and product flammability (e.g., ignition, burning rate, fire growth). State-of-the-art fire models require accurate and efficient simulation of the tightly coupled, time-dependent condensed- and gas-phase processes that control the rate of fire growth and input parameters (material properties) that describe combustible solids' decomposition reaction mechanism (and associated kinetics and thermodynamics) and relevant heat/mass transport properties.

To address this need, the NIST Fire Research Division has been developing experimental and analytical tools to calibrate these material properties and validate their ability to predict flammability response across a range of configurations/scales (i.e., mg-scale thermal decomposition, g-scale gasification/burning, and flame spread over panels between 0.5 m and 2.5 m tall). To date, these tools have been used to characterize synthetic polymers and copolymers, fiber-reinforced composite materials, porous polymer foams, and natural- and engineered-wood-products. 

The primary focus of this project is to further develop and apply the tools and techniques needed to quantify the material properties and physical mechanisms controlling fire growth behavior (e.g., pyrolysis, soot formation, flame heat feedback, smoldering/char oxidation, sample deformation) and to advance our ability to accurately predict increasingly complex burning scenarios (e.g., varied sample/product configuration and scale). 



Char Oxidation; Fire Dynamics; Fire Modeling; Fire Testing; Heat Transfer; Ignition; Material Flammability; Material Property Determination; Pyrolysis


The researcher will be responsible for:

  • Assisting in the development, implementation, and leadership of a research plan to quantify fire growth rate, flame structure, condensed-phase response, and mass loss & heat release rate of combustible solids burning at the intermediate scale (emphasis on materials that deform; e.g., due to melt flow or charring/smoldering). 
  • Applying and advancing state-of-the-art techniques to quantify the mechanisms controlling material flammability; iterative development and implementation of analytical tools to process these results.
  • Development and execution of plans for transferring NIST research through meetings, workshops, and conferences; preparing and presenting measurement results (oral presentations and written reports).


Key responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  • Independently (and as part of a team) designing and conducting bench-, intermediate-, and full-scale fire experiments.
  • Processing, analyzing, and reporting on (written and visualization) experimental measurements.
  • Developing and using mathematical models that predict critical combustion, heat transfer and flame spread phenomena that can be coupled to computational fluid dynamics fire models. 
  • Support in tech transfer of test results: staying current with relevant literature and developments in the field; preparing and presenting literature reviews; leading and co-authoring papers, presentations and reports; participating in conferences and workshops.


Qualifications/Valuable Skills: 

Hands-on experience in executing and leading experimental research

Advanced instrument design, installation, and programming (e.g., LabVIEW)

Advanced data analysis skills (basic proficiency with MATLAB/Python/Excel/R, Github, LaTeX)

Demonstrated general knowledge of analytical chemistry, heat and mass transfer,  fire dynamics, fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics

Modeling and simulation experience

Excellent oral and written communication skills.

Excellent time management and organizational skills.

Demonstrated ability to serve as lead author on reports and papers


Majors of Interest:

Chemistry, Fire Protection Engineering, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Physics