The Behaviour of Steel-Framed Composite Structures in Fire Conditions
Over the last decade it has become increasingly clear that the traditional methods of fire safety design can be unnecessarily conservative and therefore expensive. In 1995 a series of fire tests were carried out at Cardington, UK on a full-scale eight storey steel-concrete composite building. These tests produced an extensive body of data about the response of such structures to fire conditions and it is intended that this data be used to develop a clearer understanding of the structural behaviour involved. This thesis presents a method of analysing the behaviour of structures such as the Cardington frame using the commercial finite element package ABAQUS, with the addition of user defined subroutines; applies the method to two of the Cardington tests and analyses the results. FEAST, a suite of computer programmes that defines the behaviour of shell finite elements using a stress-resultant approach, was programmed for use with ABAQUS. The FEAST suite consists of two main programmes. The first, SRAS, is designed to model the behaviour of orthotropic plate sections at elevated temperatures. The second, FEAI, interfaces with the finite element package ABAQUS and allows realistic models of the behaviour of whole structures in fire conditions to be obtained. Phenomena modelled by FEAST include non-linear thermal gradients, non-linear material behaviour and coupling between membrane and bending forces. FEAST was used to analyse the behaviour of the Cardington Restrained Beam Test and the Cardington Corner Test. In both cases it was possible to produce a comprehensive set of results showing the variation of forces, moments and deflections in the structure under fire conditions. In addition, a number of parametric studies were performed to determine the effect of factors such as slab temperature and coefficient of thermal expansion on the behaviour of the structure. Special attention was given to the role of tensile mebrane action. The results showed that the behaviour of the heated structure was very different to that of an unheated structure. The response of the structure was shown to be very strongly governed by restrained thermal expansion and by thermal gradients. Degradation of material properties were found to have only a secondary effect on the structural behaviour.