Advanced Steel Construction

Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.23-46 (2005)



Y.C. Wang1, M.Q. Feng and B. Salhab

1School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE), University of Manchester, UK.

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This paper presents the main results of an extensive study of the compressive performance of cold-formed thin-walled steel sections under conditions of fire, recently conducted by the authors. Experimental, numerical anddesign calculation studies were performed. The experiments include:

  • Fire tests on small panels, measuring 300 x 300 mm, consisting of a solid or perforated cold-formed thin-walledsteel channel section, one or two layers of 12.5 mm thick gypsum plasterboard on both sides and either with orwithout interior insulation, exposed to the standard BS 476 fire condition on one side;
  • Compression tests on short (400 mm) channel sections at various uniform elevated temperatures up to 700C;
  • Fire tests on six full-scale panels of 2.2 x 2.0 m, each consisting of three cold-formed thin-walled steel channelsections, one layer of 12.5 mm gypsum plasterboard on both sides and with interior insulation, exposed to thestandard BS 476 fire condition on one side;
  • Fire test on one full-scale panel with the same arrangement as above, but using channel sections with perforationsalong the length of the web of the steel section.

Numerical studies, using ABAQUS, were carried out to investigate the following aspects:

  • Validation of heat transfer analysis against the small panel fire test results;
  • Structural behaviour of the short test columns under uniform temperature;
  • Effect of non-uniform temperature distributions in the steel cross-section of a column on its structural behaviour;
  • Effect of gypsum plasterboard falling on column structural behaviour.

The different current design methods were assessed by comparing the design calculation results against finite elementsimulation and experiment results.

It has been concluded that the behaviour of this type of construction is complex, affected by a number of factors ofsome of which our current understanding is poor, for example, how to predict gypsum plasterboard falling at hightemperatures. ABAQUS is a useful tool for studying detailed thermal and structural behaviour of cold-formedthin-walled steel structures in fire. This paper shows that provided steel temperatures are available, ENV 1993-1-2provides a reasonable and conservative prediction of ultimate strength and failure time of the samples tested in thisstudy.


Keywords:Thin-walled structures, fire tests, fire resistance, elevated temperatures, thermal behaviour, heat transfer,perforation, gypsum plasterboard


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