Nutrition Spain , Salamanca, Monday, March 19 of 2018, 09:40

A software to control forest fires

Researchers from the University of Salamanca develop the PhyFire tool, which allows simulating a fire anywhere in Spain, predicts its evolution and show the results in 3D

FGUSAL/DICYT Researchers from the University of Salamanca have developed a simulation model of forest fires that will be useful to predict the progress of the flames and, therefore, to help fight it. The research group in Numerical Simulation and Scientific Calculus has created this tool, called PhyFire, which is integrated into a geographic information system (GIS) and can be used throughout the national territory. The tool is accessible to any internet user through sinumcc.

The projects carried out by this multidisciplinary team are based on the numerical resolution of partial differential equations. "Our work is useful for different branches of science, such as engineering, physics and chemistry and also for social sciences such as economics," said Luis Ferragut Canals, member of the group.

In recent years this recognized research group of the University of Salamanca which is also a regional 'Consolidated Research Unit' has focused its efforts on problems related to the environment. "Our goal is to develop tools that can be used by people outside our field," says the researcher.

The simulation model of forest fires is one of our projects that have had a greater impact. Now, a call from the General Foundation of the University of Salamanca has allowed developing a proof of concept to improve this innovation with the support of the TCUE program of Castilla y León Regional Government.

"The propagation of a forest fire is a highly complex process, it requires simplifying the initial equations, but even so the proposed model incorporates the main mechanisms of heat transmission in a fire, which are radiation and convection. It is a two-dimensional model, although it takes into account some three-dimensional elements, such as the loss of heat in the vertical or the influence of radiation and wind on the inclination of the flame ", says the researcher María Isabel Asensio Sevilla.

Quick response

PhyFire "incorporates advanced numerical techniques and parallel calculation to provide fire brigades time and information enough to respond in advance to the actual spread of a fire" he points out.

So that it can be used by firefighting brigades, the model is integrated into a geographic information system where they can visualize a 3D forecast of how the fire is going to behave.

The new tool allows access to topographic information, land use and vegetation, important aspects to perform the simulation, but also allow the data to be represented "in a visual and attractive way for the forestry engineer who has to use these results to the time to organize what the extinction work will be consisting on. "

Technical experts and forest engineers have collaborated with the research group to make it possible. Apart from fires, the model has other applications, such as the design of risk maps, reforestation plans and the programming of controlled burning works.

Wind model useful for the wind industry

One of the elements integrated into this tool that makes these and other applications possible is a model of wind behaviour since this factor is crucial for the evolution of fire. In addition to the predominant wind, it must be borne in mind that on a local scale orography and the temperatures of the fire itself influence the local wind. Therefore, the group has developed a model of high definition wind fields, which in addition to being integrated into the fire model as an essential element, has other applications, such as studying the spread of air pollution and making predictions for the wind energy industry.

"It is a local wind model in 3D that collects the geographical conditions of a particular area and builds a very high-resolution wind map. In general, this type of model uses kilometer scales, but our spatial resolution is between 10 and 20 meters, "says Óscar Carrasco Díaz, a researcher hired for the project. This way, "we can predict the production of a wind turbine," he adds.