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Warwick FIRE

Led by Professor Jennifer Wen

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Warwick FIRE is a multidisciplinary research laboratory for both fundamental and applied research in fire, explosions and other safety related reactive and non-reactive flows. Supported by substantial funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the European Commission, the Technology Strategy Board, Innovate UK and industrial organizations from both within the UK and aboard, the research activities of Warwick FIRE focus on numerical studies of safety related reactive and non-reactive flows with particular strength in the development of physics-based sub-models and modelling approaches to capture the underlying physics of complex safety problems. Most of the development has been conducted within the frame of open source computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code OpenFOAM® to facilitate model validation and application.

Fundamental combustion science is applied to study a wide range of fire scenarios including liquid pool and gas burner fires, single and multi-phase jet fires, flame spread, façade fires and fires in enclosures as well as lithium ion battery fires.

Fundamental and applied studies are carried out for safety related reactive flows relevant to the petrochemical industry covering flame acceleration and deflagration to detonation transition, vented gas vapour cloud explosions.



Hydrogen energy applications

Detailed analysis about safety issues related to hydrogen energy applications in transport systems and the built environment, working closely with international energy companies. This aspect of work covers fire and explosions as well as indoor dispersion from small hydrogen leaks and the atmospheric dispersion from large scale spill of cryogenic liquid hydrogen. Within the frame of OpenFOAM, Jennifer’s team has developed and validated an in-house HyFOAM solver for predicting:

  • hydrogen jet fires
  • spontaneous ignition in pressurised hydrogen release
  • cryogenic hydrogen jets
  • atmospheric dispersion following large scale spill of cryogenic liquid hydrogen
  • FA and DDT in premixed hydrogen flames incorporating the effect of turbulence and mixture inhomogeneity
  • the response of compressed hydrogen cylinders under fire attack incorporating the pressurized hydrogen, liner, composite laminate, and fire
  • hydrogen explosions (including vented explosions) incorporating the effects of obstacles

Lithium ion batteries for transport and energy storage

 Analytical, experimental, and numerical studies of thermal runaway (TR) in lithium ion batteries (LIB) with particular focus on the mechanisms of TR and its propagation in LIB clusters and modules. An electrothermal model has been developed to capture the evolution from normal operation to abuse condition and TR as an in-house solver within the frame of OpenFOAM. An efficient thermal abuse model has also been developed to analyse the effect of single cell TR on the neighbouring cells. The work is inherently collaborative involving extensive collaboration with industry and academics internationally.

Liquified natural gas

The main hazard of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is the flammable vapour which can extend to kilometres as a greenhouse gas; or be ignited resulting in fire and explosions. Within the frame of OpenFOAM, Jennifer’s team has developed LNGFOAM for predicting:

  • pool spread, evaporation and dispersion following LNG spill on land and water
  • LNG rollover
  • flashing of cryogenic LNG jets
  • vapour cloud formation from LNG/other liquid fuel cascade
  • LNG pool fires incorporating the dynamic prediction of mass burning rates.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)

CCS technology involves the transport of compressed gas/liquid/dense phase carbon dioxide (CO2) via pipelines and process systems. Research has been conducted with industrial support on the decompression characteristics of rich gas and liquid/dense phase CO2 following pipeline rupture to help determining the toughness required to arrest a running ductile fracture in a pipeline. Professor Wen’s team developed and validated CFD based predictive tools to predict the transient decompression process following pipeline rupture as well as the atmospheric dispersion of the released CO2 incorporating terrain and weather effects.


Professor Jennifer Wen delivered a seminar for 3M internal Science Forum on “Numerical Modelling of lithium ion battery thermal runaway and its propagation in cell groups” on 26 August 2020.

Professor Jennifer Wen was re-appointed in January 2020 to the European Hydrogen Safety Panel, which was established by the Joint Undertaking of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen. She will continue to lead the sub-task on "Data collection and assessment".
Professor Jennifer Wen was elected to the Committee of the British Section of the Combustion Institute in September 2019.