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School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences

Bushfire Retardation by Artificial Suppression of Pyro-cumulonimbus (pyroCb) Lightning

Project title:

Bushfire Retardation by Artificial Suppression of Pyro-cumulonimbus (pyroCb) Lightning

Supervisory team:

Dr. Apurv Kumar, Dr. Rakibuzzaman Shah, and Prof. Syed Islam.

Contact Person:

Dr. Apurv Kumar (apurv.kumar@federation.edu.au)

Project outline: 

Australian bushfires have caused unprecedented destruction of lives and properties. Recent bushfires burnt over 10 million acres of land and millions of animals (some rare and native species). Such recurrent bushfires are prognosticated to occur every summer due to climate change. One of the reasons for the uncontrolled nature of the recent bushfires has been the lightning caused by the biomass smoke, known as the pyro-cumulonimbus lightning (pyroCb). Such lightning events were also observed in the past bushfires (the Black Saturday fire in 2003) and are known to ignite multiple spot fires ahead of the initial fire front. PyroCb lightning is caused by the dipole charging of the colliding aerosol particles, which is further intensified by dry conditions during the fire. The present project will aim to develop artificial methods of suppression of the lightning. The scope of the project includes the development of the numerical model of the particle charging to simulate the pyroCb lightning and experimental investigations into possible novel suppression methods to mitigate charge development. The outcome of the project will propose a novel technique to suppress the creation of spot fires by the pyroCb lightning which would be useful to control the bushfires in Australia.