Two doctoral positions open in the FSE group

New things are coming! We are hiring two new doctoral students to the team:

First is about the numerical simulation of spectral thermal radiation in condenced phase materials. Hadi will be the advisor for this thesis – the best possible person you can imagine!

The second one will contribute to the international OECD PRISME3 fire test project by performing CFD simulations of the cable tunnel fires.


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Aalto FSE group in NFSD 2018

The Nordic Fire and Safety Days was held in Trondheim, Norway on 7.-8. June this time. From the Aalto fire safety engineering group, Prof. Simo Hostikka and doctoral students Aleksi Rinta-Paavola, Deepak Paudel and Teemu Isojärvi attended the conference. Prof. Hostikka had the honor of giving the first keynote lecture, with title “Handling overpressure and ventilation in modern building fires”, and discussing the risk of dangerous overpressure development when accidental fires occur in modern airtight buildings.

Aleksi Rinta-Paavola was awarded the prize for this year’s best fire science master’s thesis (congratulations!), and gave a presentation “Numerical simulation of passive fire protection systems”.

Aleksi Rinta-Paavola receiving his Master’s thesis award at NFSD 2018.

Deepak Paudel presented his work in a talk titled “Modeling uncertainty in the prediction of wall temperature in compartment fires”. In his presentation, Deepak showed that we can take into account the model uncertainty when we use deterministic models for probabilistic fire risk assessments.

Teemu Isojärvi had a presentation titled “Radiation transmittance through the liquid phase in an n-heptane pool fire“. The work is, to our knowledge, the first time when k-distribution method is used for liquid material radiation calculations.

Some of the presentations will be shared publicly in ResearchGate.

The event was a great opportunity to connect with other people working on either the practical or scientific aspects of fire safety. Now looking forward to the ESFSS 2018 symposium, to be held in Nancy, France in September.

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Aalto FSE group: Summer trip to Suomenlinna

The fire safety engineering group visited the historic Suomenlinna fortress (UNESCO World heritage site) on 11th June. It was fun, exploring the tunnels and basking in the evening sun by the coast, as we watched the cruise set sail towards Stockholm.



PC: Hadi Bordbar, Deepak Paudel & Tito Adibaskoro


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Topi Sikanen’s Doctoral Defence

Today, 19th January,  Topi Sikanen defended his dissertation on “Simulation of transport, evaporation, and combustion of liquids in large-scale fire incidents” supervised by Prof. Simo Hostikka. The opponent for his defence was Prof. Jennifer Wen from University of Warwick, UK. Congratulations to Topi Sikanen.


Topi Sikanen’s doctoral defence at the Department of Civil Engineering, Aalto University.


Left to right: Prof. Jennifer Wen, Topi Sikanen and Prof. Simo Hostikka

The dissertation can be accessed through this link:  

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Aalto fire research team at IAFSS 2017


Aalto fire research group at the IAFSS 2017 symposium banquet.Left to Right: Dr. Kaiyuan Li, Rahul Janardhan, Prof. Simo Hostikka, Topi Sikanen and Deepak Paudel

Aalto fire research group at the IAFSS 2017 symposium banquet.Left to Right: Dr. Kaiyuan Li, Rahul Janardhan, Prof. Simo Hostikka, Topi Sikanen and Deepak Paudel

The 12th edition of the triennial IAFSS Symposium was held at Lund University, Sweden this year. Four members of the Aalto fire research group, headed by Prof. Simo Hostikka, were present at the symposium to share their research with the fire science community.

Prof. Hostikka spoke about “Heat and mass transfer in the condensed phase” in the Condensed phase subgroup of the MacFP workshop.

Dr Kaiyuan Li presented his paper about “Char cracking of MDF due to thermal shock effect induced pyrolysis shrinkage“.

Rahul Janardhan, PhD student, presented the paper from the PAHAHUPA project titled, “Fire induced pressure and smoke spreading in mechanically ventilated buildings with air tight envelopes“.

Deepak Paudel, PhD student, presented the poster “Uncertainties in the prediction of
fire-barrier temperature: Simulation and validation of a fire experiment”. 

Also, Topi Sikanen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland presented his paper on “Predicting the heat release rates of liquid pool fires in mechanically ventilated compartments“.

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Will the induction cooktops wipe out kitchen fires?

Cooking or stove -originated fires are a significant group of residential fires. These fires start from a stove or a cooktop if it is left on alone, food is left on a hot pan for a long time or if there are other, flammable materials too close the high-temperature parts. Different technologies are already available to avoid such ignitions, including the stove guards that cut off the voltage when they detect a possible ignition. Although such technologies can be very efficient, I have started to think if the kitchen fires could be reduced with some other means. Could we prevent fires from igniting in the first place? Or could we improve safety without extra investment?

The importance of the stove fires is evident. According to the Finnish fire statistics of 2011-15 [1], the yearly count of building fires was 5760 in average, leading to 73 fire deaths and 124 M EUR direct economic losses annually. About 1000 (17 %) fires originated from cooking and 700 (12 %) from electrical appliances. In fire deaths, the shares of these two origins were  8.2 % and 7.4 %, respectively. On top of these, we have the ‘unknown’ category in each statistics.

So what technological change could make the change? Let’s have an analogy: When I started to work in fire research at the end of 1990’s, televisions were one of the most important ignition sources. A lot of effort was put in developing fire-safe televisions, mainly by using fire retardant polymers. Interestingly, about the time when the fire retardant polymers fully came into market, TV-technology changed from cathode ray tubes to flat screens, and televisions practically disappeared from fire ignition statistics. Natural evolution of the market removed the problem. Could we see similar evolution in stoves?

Based on my personal experience, induction heating -based stoves can make the difference. Instead of first heating the stove and relying on heat conduction to heat up the cooking pans or pots, an alternating magnetic field is used to create magnetic hysteresis and electrical current in the pan, which then heats up due to the resistance. The fire safety benefit is obvious because the amount of high temperature surfaces is reduced.

Kookplaat inductie

The yearly number of sold cooktops and kitchen stoves in Finland is about 168,000. In 2016, about 50,000 (30 %) of them were based on the induction technology [2]. The share of induction -based appliances is much higher in integrated cooktops (65 %) than in floor-standing stoves (10 %), but their shares are gradually increasing in both stove types.

To estimate the potential safety impact, we must compare the rate of stove renewals to the total population. At the end of 2015, there were 2,600,000 occupied dwellings in Finland, 45 % of them being in the blocks of flats [3]. Assuming that the floor-standing stoves are installed in flats, the share of induction stoves in these dwellings will increase only by 1 % each year. Also assuming that the integrated cooktops are installed in the other dwelling types, we can estimate that about 3 % of dwellings will have a new induction cooktop each year. If the share of the induction cooktops and stoves does not increase significantly, the possible safety benefit cannot be reached within the next 30 years. The impact will smallest in the low-investment housing, such as rental buildings. On the other hand, that’s where the cities and municipalities have the greatest power to influence.

I think this topic needs more research to investigate the potential safety improvement. First of all, we should understand the physics of stove ignitions and the difference between thermal conditions typical for different stove technologies. Second, we should estimate the potential for natural and enforced market shares, as well as policy making. When the money is tight, we should utilize the possibility.


  1. Pelastustoimen taskutilasto 2011-2015. Pelastusopiston julkaisu, D-sarja: Muut 4/2016. 2. painos.
  2. Elektroniikan Tukkukauppiaat ry (ETK), and Visited December 2, 2016.
  3. Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Dwellings and housing conditions [e-publication].
    ISSN=1798-6761. Overview 2015, 1. Dwelling stock 2015 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 10.4.2017].



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Nordic Fire and Safety Days 2017 – remember to submit

Aalto University is one of the organizers of the 2017 Nordic Fire and Safety Days.

There are still few days to submit your abstract. Last year, it was great event.


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New article highlights the importance of the fire -induced pressure

Our latest article, titled ‘Experiments and Numerical Simulations of Pressure Effects in Apartment Fires‘ is now available at Fire Technology -journal. It is OpenAccess.

In this paper we summarize the experimental findings and numerical simulation validation. The main conclusion of the experimental work was that the pressure in normal apartment fire can become dangerously high if the fire development is as fast as in the experiments. (Simulations later in the project showed that in fact, fast t2-fire is enough to cause problems.)

So what is so dangerous about pressure?

First, we noticed that very soon after the ignition, the pressure exceeds the level of 100-200 Pa, meaning that the inwards opening door cannot be opened from inside. A person trying to leave the apartment in the early stages of the fire would not be able to do so!

Secondly, a bit stronger fire, ignited in the closet of the apartment, was able to break the light-weight external wall of the apartment. This is shown also in the Youtube-video as well.

The sensitivity of the over-pressure to the envelope air-tightness was very clearly demonstrated. This means that the above-mentioned problems will become more and more important when we build modern air-tight buildings for the sake of energy efficiency, or in order to manage the conditions inside very tall buildings.

Now, when the Finnish building code for structural fire safety (E1) is under modification, it is important to take these findings into account, and require that the pressures are taken into account in building design, along with the traditional threats like fire spreading.

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MSc thesis topic in the numerical simulation of passive fire protection systems

We are looking for a MSc student to this paid MSc thesis project.

Background: Passive fire protection systems (e.g. stone wool) are used in building and other industries to protect structures and devices from heat and hazardous conditions, such as fire. Design of such systems has been mainly based standardized testing, but a clear need for simulation-based design tools exists.

Task: You will construct a numerical simulation model for the thermo-chemical behavior of a thermal insulation / fire protection material using existing simulation tools, such as FDS or Comsol. The model development consists of the specification of heat transfer mechanisms and formulation of chemical reaction scheme to describe the exothermic reactions inside the material. You will determine the model parameters using small-scale experiments and an optimization algorithm, and validate the model using large-scale experimental data. The simulation model can be used for the product development, performance assessment, and risk analyses.

Advisor: Thesis advisor will be PhD Hannu-Petteri Mattila, Paroc Oy, Parainen.

Practicalities: Starting time in winter/spring 2017. The work will be made in the premises of Aalto University or at Paroc (Parainen), as agreed later. Grant of 12 000 eur will be applied from the Aalto University’s Science and Technology Foundation.

Expectations: The topic can suit for the students of (applied) mathematics, physics, civil engineering, energy technology and chemistry.  Relevant (non-exclusive) skills: Thermodynamics, heat transfer, numerical analysis, modelling and simulation. Good oral and written English. Group-working skills.

Apply before 9.12.2016 by sending your cover letter, CV and study transcript to

Prof. Simo Hostikka
Fire Safety Engineering, School of Engineering
050 447 1582

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Welcoming new Building Technology students

It was a pleasure to welcome the new students to the Building Technology Master’s programme. Simo (program director) gave the introductory lecture. After that the students had orientation orienteering around the department, during which Kai told them about FSE, and Rahul and Umar presented their thesis projects.


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