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Smoldering Fire


Smoldering combustion is the slow, low temperature, flameless burning of porous fuels and the most persistent type of combustion phenomena. The heat is released when oxygen directly attacks the surface of a solid fuel. It is especially common in porous fuels which form a char on heating, like cigarette, wood, plastic foam, coal, and peat soil. For example, after the collapse of the Word Trade Center towers on 11/9/2001, the immense piles of debris smoldered for 3–5 months in the middle of one of the most heavily populated cities of the world, resisting all suppression attempts until the slow removal of debris cleared the pile. Smoldering combustion is among the leading causes of residential fires because of releasing massive CO.

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Smoldering is also the dominant combustion phenomena in wildfires of natural deposits of peat and coal which are the largest and longest burning fires on Earth. The oldest fire on Earth is The Burning Mountain in New South Wales, Australia, a large coal seam which has been smoldering for more than 6000 years. Recent research shows that peat fire produces 15% of the global carbon emission. Our research now focuses on:

  • Smoldering peat fire

  • Smoldering Ignition and extinction limits

  • Numerical Simulation of smoldering combustion

  • Smoldering fire suppression technologies


  • Smoldering Ignition and Quenching Criteria: Interactions between Heat-and-Mass Transfer and Heterogeneous Reactions under Limiting Conditions, NSFC General Fund (No. 51876183), RMB 600K, 2019 - 2022

  • Research and development of organic waste removal technology via smoldering and emission control strategy, Cooperation Fund of Sichuan (2019YFSY0040), RMB 200K, 2019 - 2021

Project Members


Dr Shaorun Lin

Yuying Chen


Yunzhu Qin

5 Representative publications:

  1. Y. Qin, Y. Chen, S. Lin, X. Huang (2022) Limiting Oxygen Concentration and Supply Rate of Smoldering PropagationCombustion and Flame, 105709. 

  2. Y. Chen, S. Lin, Z. Liang, N.C. Surawski, X. Huang (2022) Smouldering Organic Waste Removal Technology with Smoke Emissions Cleaned by Self-Sustained FlameJournal of Cleaner Production, 132363. 

  3. S. Lin, Y. Liu, X. Huang (2021) Climate-induced Arctic-Boreal Peatland Fire and Carbon Loss in the 21st CenturyScience of Total Environment, 148924. 

  4. S. Lin, X. Huang (2021) Quenching of Smoldering: Effect of Wall Cooling on Extinction, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute.

  5. S. Lin, Y.K. Cheung, Y. Xiao, X. Huang (2020) Can Rain Suppress Smoldering Peat Fire? Sci Total Environ, 138468. 

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