The Cone Calorimeter to be recognized with the 2024 Philip J. DiNenno Prize

April 15, 2024
Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas and Dr. Marc Janssens will be honored for their roles in developing the technology.

April 15, 2024 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced that the development and deployment of the Cone Calorimeter will be recognized with the 2024 Philip J. DiNenno Prize. In addition, NFPA announced that Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas and Dr. Marc Janssens will be honored as “DiNenno Prize Laureates" for their contributions to developing and deploying this groundbreaking technology.

The formal presentation of the DiNenno Prize and recognition of Dr. Babrauskas and Dr. Janssens will take place at the NFPA Stars at Night awards ceremony during the annual NFPA Conference & Expo (C&E) in Orlando on Sunday, June 16, 2024.

The development of the Cone Calorimeter marked a significant innovation in fire science as the first small-scale test method to accurately reflect the radiative environment of real-scale fires. It shows the response of a material to external radiant heat, such as ignition and burning under the influence of thermal radiation. The test can measure the heat release characteristics of materials using oxygen consumption calorimetry in addition to the release rates of smoke and combustion products.

The unique aspect of the Cone Calorimeter was its use of oxygen consumption calorimetry and the cone heater design, both of which were improvements over existing methods.

Before the development of the Cone Calorimeter, assessing a material's fire properties and behaviors was more challenging and less accurate. The Cone Calorimeter is widely used in fire research, materials development, and regulation of materials and products. The technology can be found in fire research facilities and testing laboratories, industry, and academic institutions.

The Cone Calorimeter has had a significant impact on public safety, including:

  • Safety and Material Testing: The Cone Calorimeter is used worldwide as a regulatory test method for building products, consumer products, and transportation. This is because of the standardization activities in ASTM and ISO.
  • Fire Prevention: By understanding how different materials perform when exposed to external radiation representative of real-scale fire conditions, it is possible to develop new materials that are less flammable.
  • Research and Development: It provides a powerful tool for scientists and safety engineers to characterize combustible materials.

2024 DiNenno Prize Laureates:

  • Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas, president of Fire Science and Technology, Inc., was the inventor of the original Cone Calorimeter, which he developed in the 1980s as a researcher with the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), now known as the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

He was awarded the first-ever Ph.D. in fire protection engineering (from the University of California, Berkeley) and holds degrees in physics and structural engineering. He is the author of over 400 articles, reports, and other publications. He has a special interest in the science education of fire investigators and has served since 2006 on the NFPA Committee on Fire Investigations.

Dr. Babrauskas was awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal in 1986 and the R&D 100 Award in 1988 for developing the Cone Calorimeter.

  • Dr. Marc L. Janssens, institute engineer at Southwest Research Institute, played a central role in developing international standards for the Cone Calorimeter. His leadership included organizing round-robin evaluations of the Cone Calorimeter in the ISO and ASTM processes.

Dr. Janssens is the past chairman of ASTM Committee E05 on Fire Standards and the International FORUM of Fire Research Directors; serves on several committees in ASTM and NFPA; and is a fellow of SFPE.

He obtained a Ph.D. in applied sciences with a thesis on a subject related to fire protection engineering from Ghent University in Belgium. He has authored more than 160 publications, including chapters in the NFPA and SFPE handbooks and a book on fire modeling.

The Cone Calorimeter has been crucial in Dr. Janssens' 44-year fire testing and research career. His work and research were pivotal in helping deploy the use of Cone Calorimeter technology around the world.

Panel Presentation at NFPA Conference & Expo:

The NFPA Conference & Expo will feature a special panel presentation on the Cone Calorimeter’s role in fire protection, highlighting this critical tool’s impact on advancing fire standards.

Dr. Babrauskas and Dr. Janssens will participate in the panel discussion moderated by Director of NFPA Research Birgitte Messerschmidt. The session will take place on Monday, June 17, at 10:30 a.m., in room W230AB, Level 2, at the Orange County Convention Center.

About the DiNenno Prize:

The Philip J. DiNenno Prize is a distinguished honor recognizing pioneering innovations that significantly impact building, fire, and electrical safety. The prize includes a monetary award of $50,000 and is named in honor of the late Philip J. DiNenno, former CEO of Hughes Associates, in recognition of his exceptional contributions to fire safety.

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