Analysis of Catenary Effect in Steel Beams and Trusses Exposed to Fire

Sammanfattning: The goals of structural design are fundamentally different when designing structures at normal temperature or when designing them in a fire situation. While structures are primarily designed for normal temperature situations considering the different design limit states, in the fire design situation, however, the already designed structure is assessed for its resistance in the fire design limit state. The assessment of the structure in the fire limit state may lead to either active or passive fire protection measures. The assessment of the structure in fire may be done in several different domains such as its structural resistance, integrity of structural components to prevent spread of fire and insulation properties of materials. The focus of the thesis presented here is on the structural resistance of steel structural members particularly steel beams and trusses in fire situations. The Eurocodes permit designers to use either a simple prescriptive design procedure or a more complex performance based procedure for design of structures in fire. The prescriptive design is a simple choice regarding design of steel structures in fire due to their use of simple analytical equations; but through several studies it has been established that this approach might be conservative and in some situations it might not reflect the complexity of interaction between the heated structural members and its surrounding colder parts of the structure. The performance based approach has therefore been increasingly adopted in structural fire design, which, although more complex than the prescriptive approach, is closer to the real structural behaviour. Through a performance based approach, this thesis aims to establish that steel structural members are able to offer structural resistance in fire situations that are much higher than would be expected from a prescriptive approach. Two different types of structural members such as steel beams in multi-storey buildings and trusses in single storey buildings were considered here. It has been shown through extensive finite element analysis in both cases that actual resistance of these structural members in fire situations can exceed their primary resistance mechanism through flexure. Alternative load transfer mechanism through catenary action offers the added resistance at much higher temperatures than the conventional critical temperatures from prescriptive design. The thesis also proposes simplified calculation procedures that can be used to reasonably predict the structural resistance at elevated temperatures considering the catenary action.

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