Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Thermal Hazards Laboratory

A.M. Birk P. Eng. PhD. Professor


The focus of the research at the Thermal Hazards Laboratory is on the safe storage and transportation of pressure liquified gases such as propane or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). A major topic of interest is the boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion or BLEVE. The laboratory uses large scale experiments and computer modelling to study the response of a pressure vessel in an fire accident situation and the possible hazards arising from vessel failure. Some of the research topics include:

  • Fire Effects on Pressure Vessels holding Pressure Liquefied Gases
  • Thermal Protection of Pressure Vessels

  • Computer Modelling of Vessels in Fires

  • Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosions (BLEVE)

  • Modelling Hazards from BLEVEs (fireballs, blast overpressure, projectiles)

  • Pressure Relief Valve Testing and Modelling

  • Fire Testing of Pressure Vessels

  • Benefit Analysis for Thermal Protection Systems

  • Thermographic Inspection of Thermal Protection Systems

This work has been funded by Transport Canada, Transportation Development Centre, Transport of Dangerous Goods Directorate, NSERC, RCMP Canada Bomb Data Centre, and companies in the propane industry.