Professor Richard Hull

Prof. T Richard Hull

Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science

School of Physical Sciences and Computing

JB Firth Building, JBF110

+44 (0) 1772 89 3543

Subject Areas: Chemistry, Fire and Fire Safety

Richard Hull is the Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). His expertise is in the decomposition and flammability of plastic materials. This has led him to investigate the behaviour and suitability of fire retardants for a range of plastics, and at the causes of fire effluent toxicity, the major cause of death and injury in fires. He is internationally leading in Fire Science, with over 100 publications on fire retardancy and fire toxicity.

Research Groups

Centre for Fire Chemistry and Toxicity

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BSc Chemistry (1st Class Hons) Salford, 1981
PhD Physical Chemistry/Fire Retardancy, Salford, 1987
PGCE (Further and Technical Education) Manchester, 1987
Chartered Chemist (CChem) 1991
Chartered Scientist (CSci) 1999

Prof Hull’s work has focussed on fire science, and particularly fire toxicity and fire retardants. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications in fire chemistry, and lead a group comprising 3 visiting professors, 1 reader and 10 PhD students. He represents the Royal Society of Chemistry on the BSI Hazard to Life from Fire technical committee, and is the designated UK Principal Expert on Physical Fire Models to the ISO Fire Threat to People and the Environment subcommittee (TC92 SC3).
In fire science and fire retardants he was awarded substantial funding from EPSRC for the development of fire retardant nanocomposite synthetic fibres, in collaboration with Prof Ebdon. To address the problem of scale-up of nanocomposite flammability and fire toxicity, he assembled a large EU Framework 6 (FP6) project which received €2M. He contributed to the development of numerous commercial fire retardant developments; intumescent char forming materials; fire retarded cable sheathing; flame retarded phosphate plasticised chlorinated PVC; use of expandable graphite; incorporation of carbon nanotubes; and phosphate and phosphonate fire retardants in PMMA and PS. He ran the Fire Chemistry Network (EPSRC) confirming his group’s pivotal role in the fire chemistry community, is on the editorial board of two international fire journals, and the scientific committees of most major polymer degradation and fire conferences.

Fire smoke toxicity is the major cause of death in fires. It shows large differences between the different stages of a fire depending upon the combustion conditions which have been considered hard to replicate on a small scale, and as a result has been largely neglected in analysis of fire hazards. The development of the steady state tube furnace (ISO TS 19700) has been achieved with support from the UK’s EPSRC “Determination of combustion toxicity of polymeric materials under different fire conditions” which led to a further two PhDs investigating the toxicity of burning cables, and a fourth from the EU Framework 6 project to investigate fire toxicity of nanocomposites. This work has shown the importance of the equivalence ratio in predicting the toxic product yields from burning polymers under a range of combustion conditions occurring in different full-scale fire scenarios.

Research Funding > £1.8M since Jan 2001

Professor Hull has around 100 peer-reviewed publications, and with his colleague, Dr Anna Stec, co-edited the first and only major reference work on “Fire Toxicity”. To him, fire science is a fascinating area, because most of the understanding still needs to be gained. It spans many disciplines from mathematical modelling and physical processes like heat transfer to fast chemical reactions involving free radicals, and tragically the effects it has on living systems, like us!


Crewe, Robert John, Andrews, Stephen Paul, Hull, T Richard, Birbeck, P and Stec, Anna A (2013) Combustion and Toxic Gas Production from Disposable Barbecues in Enclosures. Journal of Forensic Science . ISSN 0022-1198

Molyneux, Shirley, Stec, Anna A and Hull, T Richard (2013) Gas phase flame retardants: the contrasting effects of phosphinated and brominated systems on the fire toxicity of polyamides. Polymer Degradation and Stability . ISSN 0141-3910

Witkowski, Artur, Stec, Anna A and Hull, T Richard (2012) The influence of metal hydroxide fire retardants and nanoclay on the thermal decomposition of EVA. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 97 (11). pp. 2231-2240. ISSN 01413910

Witowski, Artur, Zhou, Rongrong, Hull, T Richard and Stec, Anna A (2012) Py-GC/MS and TGA-FTIR Studies of Fire retardant Polyacrylonitrate Based Copolymers Containing Nanoclay. Polymer degredation and Stability . ISSN 0141-3910

More publications


Fire Chemistry, Fire Science and Fire Toxicity, with particular emphasis on fire retardants

Current Projects

  • Fire Protection of Timber;
  • Use of Carbon Nanotubes to replace brominated flame retardants;
  • Fire Behaviour of Insulation Materials;
  • Fire Toxicity of Cable Materials;

External Roles

  • UK Principal Expert to ISO TC 92 Fire Threat to People and the Environment;
  • Advisory Committee to US EPA Great Lakes PBDE Reduction Project;
  • Editorial Board: Fire Science Reviews;
  • Editorial Board: Fire Science and Technology


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Association (FHEA)
  • Member of the Society for Chemical Industry, the American Chemical Society and the International Association for Fire Safety Science.

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Chemistry is at the heart of all sciences, and he has enjoyed teaching it in Universities for the last 20 years. Currently he teaches physical chemistry to the 2nd and 3rd year chemists.

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