Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI’s Dr. Marc Janssens recognized for role in establishing cone calorimeter fire testing

April 24, 2024 — Southwest Research Institute’s Dr. Marc Janssens was named a “DiNenno Prize Laureate” for his role in the widespread adoption of the cone calorimeter, a fire-testing tool that accurately measures heat release and material flammability. The National Fire Protection Association® recognized the cone calorimeter with the 2024 Philip J. DiNenno Prize for its lasting impact on fire safety. Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas, a co-recipient of the prize, developed the cone calorimeter in the early 1980s.

“It is an immense honor and a shock to be recognized after so many years,” said Janssens, an SwRI Institute engineer who built the first cone calorimeter apparatus outside of the United States at Ghent University in Belgium. Janssens was instrumental in the development, deployment and standardization of the fire test worldwide.

At Ghent, Janssens chaired an ISO working group that surveyed numerous devices and fire-testing methods. Under Janssens’s leadership, the group concluded the cone calorimeter had the unique ability to accurately measure heat release of a small sample of various materials under a wide range of thermal exposure conditions. The team chose to develop the cone calorimeter as the international standard.

“The cone calorimeter has made a difference. It has improved fire safety by supporting the adoption of performance-based fire engineering to design buildings and transportation vehicles around the world,” Janssens said. “It has also led to the development of safer building materials, furnishings and contents.”  

Janssens joined Southwest Research Institute in 1996. His early work at the Institute included developing test criteria to evaluate materials used in high-speed ferries for the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Dr. Janssens is recognized as one of the top 10 fire testing experts in the world,” said Dr. Matthew Blais, director of SwRI’s Fire Technology Department. “It is a well-deserved recognition and award that highlights the quality of the work done at the Institute’s Fire Technology Department. Marc is an asset who will help train the next generation of fire scientists and engineers.”

In a career that spans more than four decades, Janssens has evaluated the fire properties of materials used in automobiles and supported fire investigators by improving the accuracy of estimated burn rates of upholstered furniture. He also tested the fire performance of cables, liquid fuels and other combustible materials to ensure fire safety at nuclear power plants.

Janssens is a fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and authored several chapters in the Society’s handbook on fire protection engineering. He’s also co-authored more than 160 technical publications. He is associate editor of the international journal “Fire and Materials” and serves on the editorial advisory board of the “Journal of Fire Sciences.”

The National Fire Protection Association® will honor Janssens and Babrauskas at the NFPA Conference & Expo® in Orlando June 16.

For more information, visit Fire Testing or contact Camaron Brooks,+1 210 522 2357, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.