Energy and Combustion


Understanding the rate of ignition and combustion of common household items helps make safer spaces. Inorganic building materials have a different rate of ignition than organic or synthetic items. Furniture made of wood will be a different kind of fuel source than furniture made of foam plastic or synthetic upholstery.


  • What is heat release rate and how is it measured?

Problem to be solved

  • When fire investigators know how different fuels ignite and combust, they can better understand a burn scene and can build stronger claims based on a knowledge of types of evidence and patterns of fuels.

Be sure to explore the student guide and teacher guide that support this investigation.

Find this resource
More like this:
Resource Library

The Science of Thermal Runaway

Engineering Solutions

From hoverboards to cell phones, portable electrical power makes life as we know it possible. But it can come with some dangerous possibilities. Let’s investigate, experiment and search for solutions.

The Science of Extraction to E-Waste

Trade-Offs & the Supply Chain

Safe and sustainable cities will depend on lithium-ion batteries to power our modern lives. But what are the costs?

The Science of Fire Forensics

Claims, Evidence and Reasoning

There’s been a fire. Your job is to figure out where the fire started, and how.