Lab Design

The University of Exeter wildFIRE lab is a specifically designed experimental laboratory where we can test the flammability of natural fuels.

furnace (1)

Flammability is a general term that describes how easily something will burn or ignite, causing combustion or fire. In reality a combination of factors determine the flammability of a material where measurements of a fire’s dynamics are required in order to understand the effects that a fire might have on its surroundings. These factors need to be real measurable quantities and not simply perceived visual relationships.

me and icone (1)
FTT iCone Calorimeter

The wildFIRE lab comprises equipment that is more typically used in fire safety engineering often used for making our built environment as safe from fires as is possible. Our approach is to use this EU funded facility to understand as much about the flammability of natural plant based materials in order that we can understand the flammability of our planet both in the present and the past.

The aims being to develop tools for ecosystem management, to understand the role that fire has played in shaping our ecosystems and to quantify wildfire feedbacks to Earth system processes.


Fire Testing Equipment

  • FAA Microcalorimeter

for determining thermo-chemical data and predicting fire properties of small samples)

  • iCone Calorimeter

measuring time to ignition, burn duration and heat release rate of flammable materials

  • Vitiated unit (for variable oxygen experiments) and large cone module
  • Small smoke hood
  • Fume hoods
  • Furnace

Standard Analytical Laboratory Equipment

The wildFIRE lab also hosts a range of standard laboratory equipment in both the fire lab and its associated acid-wet lab all necessary for the preparation of modern and fossil samples. Equipment includes for example a wet sediment sieving area, centrifuge, hot plates, ultrasonic bath and analytical balances.


The laboratory further has an adjoining microscopy room for sample preparations and microscopic analysis of charcoals complete with digital image capture and analysis facility. Including low power stereo microscopes (Zeiss Stemi), Olympus transmitted light microscope, and a Zeiss reflectance microscope with Tidas analysis system.

The wildFIRE Lab has been funded by:

Marie Curie Career Intergration Grant – PyroMap


ERC Starter Grant – ECOFLAM
FP7/2007-2013 / ERC grant agreement n. 335891