CSIRO Pyrotron ignites bushfire research
Launched this morning by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator the Hon Kim Carr, the CSIRO Pyrotron is an important new facility for understanding the behaviour of bushfires.
CSIRO bushfire researcher Andrew Sullivan says the Pyrotron will extend the knowledge gained from traditional field observations by enabling researchers to observe and measure combustion at a fire front under controlled and repeatable conditions.
“This is something that’s not possible to do in the field due to our inability to be where it matters in a free-moving bushfire,” he says.
“We will be able to build a better understanding of the mechanics of bushfire spread, which is important for understanding bushfire behaviour under changed future climate conditions.
“The Pyrotron will also enable us to look at the chemistry of combustion of bushfires, giving us better information about emissions under different burning conditions and carbon sequestration through charcoal formation.”
Located at Yarralumla in Canberra, the Pyrotron is a 25-metre-long aluminium wind tunnel with a five-metre-long fuel bed and a viewing section lined with toughened glass.
The type of bushfire fuel burned, such as leaves, twigs and bark, and the wind speed will be varied while the temperature and humidity will be that of the day.
“Canberra gets some very hot dry days during summer, which will be ideal for running experiments under extreme fire danger conditions in the safety of the Pyrotron,” Mr Sullivan says.
Experiments at the Pyrotron will build on over 40 years of bushfire research at CSIRO into how bushfires behave and the factors that control their behaviour. This research led to the fire danger rating systems currently in use across Australia and many improvements to fire safety and fire-fighting.
Research at the CSIRO Pyrotron will support the work of CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship, providing improved knowledge about the likely behaviour of bushfires under future climate change.
The CSIRO Pyrotron will be made available to other researchers around Australia and the world to assist in the study of bushfires under controlled conditions.
The ACT Government, ACT Emergency Services and local residents have been consulted regarding safety and operation. Smoke emitted by the facility during experiments will be roughly equivalent to a backyard wood-fired barbecue.
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- The CSIRO Pyrotron is an important new facility for understanding the behaviour of bushfires
- Located at Yarralumla in Canberra, the Pyrotron is a 25-metre-long aluminium wind tunnel with a five-metre-long fuel bed and a viewing section lined with toughened glass
- Experiments at the Pyrotron will build on over 40 years of bushfire research at CSIRO into how bushfires behave and the factors that control their behaviour