Purpose: Light-Gauge Steel Frame (LSF) structures are popular in building construction due to their lightweight, easy erecting and constructability characteristics. However, due to steel lipped channel sections negative fire performance, cavity insulation materials are utilized in the LSF configuration to enhance its fire performance. The applicability of lightweight concrete filling as cavity insulation in LSF and its effect on the fire performance of LSF are investigated under realistic design fire exposure, and results are compared with standard fire exposure. Design/methodology/approach: A Finite Element model (FEM) was developed to simulate the fire performance of Light Gauge Steel Frame (LSF) walls exposed to realistic design fires. The model was developed utilising Abaqus subroutine to incorporate temperature-dependent properties of the material based on the heating and cooling phases of the realistic design fire temperature. The developed model was validated with the available experimental results and incorporated into a parametric study to evaluate the fire performance of conventional LSF walls compared to LSF walls with lightweight concrete filling under standard and realistic fire exposures. Findings: Novel FEM was developed incorporating temperature and phase (heating and cooling) dependent material properties in simulating the fire performance of structures exposed to realistic design fires. The validated FEM was utilised in the parametric study, and results exhibited that the LSF walls with lightweight concrete have shown better fire performance under insulation and load-bearing criteria in Eurocode parametric fire exposure. Foamed Concrete (FC) of 1,000 kg/m3 density showed best fire performance among lightweight concrete filling, followed by FC of 650 kg/m3 and Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) 600 kg/m3. Research limitations/implications: The developed FEM is capable of investigating the insulation and load-bearing fire ratings of LSF walls. However, with the availability of the elevated temperature mechanical properties of the LSF wall, materials developed model could be further extended to simulate the complete fire behaviour. Practical implications: LSF structures are popular in building construction due to their lightweight, easy erecting and constructability characteristics. However, due to steel-lipped channel sections negative fire performance, cavity insulation materials are utilised in the LSF configuration to enhance its fire performance. The lightweight concrete filling in LSF is a novel idea that could be practically implemented in the construction, which would enhance both fire performance and the mechanical performance of LSF walls. Originality/value: Limited studies have investigated the fire performance of structural elements exposed to realistic design fires. Numerical models developed in those studies have considered a similar approach as models developed to simulate standard fire exposure. However, due to the heating phase and the cooling phase of the realistic design fires, the numerical model should incorporate both temperature and phase (heating and cooling phase) dependent properties, which was incorporated in this study and validated with the experimental results. Further lightweight concrete filling in LSF is a novel technique in which fire performance was investigated in this study.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Northumbria University and the University of Moratuwa for the financial support and research facilities.
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.