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University of Coimbra researches the spread of large fires with support from REN


The Centre for Forest Fire Studies (CEIF - Centro de Estudos sobre Incêndios Florestais) of University of Coimbra (UC) will build a thermal tunnel, with the support of REN, to research the propagation of large fires.

Domingos Xavier Viegas, coordinator of the CEIF and full professor at the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC - Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra) explains that this tunnel, innovative at international level, features "the ability to generate a flow of the type of atmospheric boundary layer with vertical gradients of temperature and velocity. This allows us to study and understand the interaction between fire and atmosphere in many different conditions, including in the conditions found in some large fires, thus contributing to a better understanding of their development".

For João Faria Conceição, executive director of REN, supporting the purchase of the thermal tunnel "is another step towards understanding and preventing the large fires that devastate the country every year, even more so in a period of drought such as the one we are going through. As REN is responsible for managing and clearing thousands of hectares of forest, it is in the company's best interest to contribute to the research and protection of national forests, increasing their resilience and enabling a more efficient fight against fires".

Domingos Xavier Viegas highlights the important support of REN's donation for the acquisition of the equipment, which is expected to go into operation within a few months, explaining that, in recent years, CEIF has dedicated special attention to the study of the extreme behaviour of forest fires, "highlighting their dynamic nature, resulting from the interaction between the fire and the atmosphere. We know that the atmosphere's vertical structure, which defines its level of thermal instability, does condition this interaction between the fire and the environment, but the way in which it does this is not yet well understood.

The goal is therefore to better understand how these processes act, whether by favouring or inhibiting rising currents, which in turn may enhance the more or less rapid development of a fire", he concludes.

Within the scope of its sustainability strategy, namely the environmental protection pillar, REN has been supporting the research of CEIF regarding the behaviour of forest fires and the improvement of personal safety.