Fire endurance of multicellular panels in an FRP building system

Fiber-reinforced synthetic polymers (FRP) are the building materials that may permit both the improvement of long-term building performance and the simplification of the construction process. Thanks to their high specific strength, low thermal conductivity, good environmental resistance, and their ability to be formed into complex shapes, FRP materials are well-suited to fulfilling many building functions. By integrating traditionally separate building systems and layers into single function-integrated components and industrially fabricating those components, the amount of on-site labor can be greatly reduced and overall quality can be improved. In order to profit from the advantageous qualities of FRP, however, it is essential to address the unique weaknesses and disadvantages of the material. Most notably, the problems of poor fire safety and high material costs must be overcome. In response to these challenges, a new multiple-story building system employing FRP materials is proposed. Within this system, fire safety is ensured through the use of an internal liquid cooling system, which circulates a cooling medium through the load-bearing FRP elements to maintain their temperature within a safe operating range. This system is made cost-effective through the integration of the building's heating and cooling system. By controlling the temperature of the circulating liquid, the building's structural elements can serve as heating or cooling emitters (radiators). Further, the addition of the liquid within the cells of the FRP elements helps maintain a more constant interior climate through the "thermal flywheel" effect, which improves energy efficiency and comfort. Experimental investigations were performed to explore the fire safety aspects of the proposed system. An existing FRP cellular bridge deck material was adapted to incorporate an internal liquid cooling system. After several preliminary investigations, large-scale experiments involving structural and fire loading were conducted on both liquid-cooled and non-liquid cooled specimens. The experiments demonstrated the efficacy of the system in protecting load-bearing FRP elements from the weakening effects of high temperatures, especially those that are stressed in compression. Structural fire endurance times were improved from less than one hour to more than two hours (EC1 Part 1.2) through the implementation of the liquid cooling system. Alongside the experimental program, a series of mathematical models were developed. Numerical thermochemical and thermomechanical models simulate the response of loaded liquid-cooled FRP panels in fire, while analytical models predict the post-fire mechanical behavior of fire-damaged sections. All models provide predictions that are within 10% of experimentally measured values.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 3235 (2005)
    Section d'architecture
    Faculté de l'environnement naturel, architectural et construit
    Institut de structures
    Laboratoire de construction en composites
    Jury: Inès Devanthéry-Lamunière, Manfred Hirt, Erich Hugi, John Lesko, Aixi Zhou

    Public defense: 2005-5-4


    Record created on 2005-04-06, modified on 2016-08-08

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