Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fire And Structural Safety A Hot Topic For Engineers, And The Nation

Date:
June 10, 2007
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Earthquakes and explosions grab the headlines when structures are toppled, but often the Achilles' heel of engineering is fire. Fire is the follow-up act in disasters. Yet in a research world awash in data keeping skyscrapers, bridges and buildings upright and safe in disaster, fire remains largely unstudied.

Steel construction beams after being submitted to a fire upwards of 2,000 degrees Farenheit in Michigan State’s new Structural Fire Testing Facility furnace.
Credit: Kurt Stepnitz

Earthquakes and explosions grab the headlines when structures are toppled, but often the Achilles’ heel of engineering is fire.

Fire is the follow-up act in disasters, the coup de grace that buckles steel beams and shatters concrete. Yet in a research world awash in data keeping skyscrapers, bridges and buildings upright and safe in a disaster, fire remains largely unstudied.

On Sunday, June 10, 60 scientists and professionals from around the world, including representatives from the New York Fire Department and the New York City Department of Buildings, will gather at Michigan State University for a workshop on structures and fire sponsored by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards Technology. The goal: identify the nation’s research and training needs.

On Tuesday, June 12, MSU will unveil the Structural Fire Testing Facility, the first such facility in a U.S. university that can subject beams, columns and slabs to an inferno comparable to a catastrophic blaze – and gather data about the effects of fire on construction materials and structural systems. The facility is essentially an enormous furnace that can generate heat up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, while monitoring structural performance.

MSU professor Venkatesh Kodur said the ability to perform structural fire testing will be a significant step toward bringing the United States up to speed in integrating fire and structural engineering – a step crucial to homeland security.

“Many recent disasters involving fire have generated lots of high-level reports suggesting that the United States has a significant lack of expertise in the area of structural fire safety,” Kodur said. “In the U.S. we design to protect against fire, but once there is a fire, we have no rational engineering to address it.”

Kodur, professor of civil and environmental engineering, is one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of fire on materials and structural systems like beams, columns and slabs. Often, it’s a field that seems to be moving backward, as many building materials used today are less fire resistant than some of the conventional materials used 50 years ago. Some new types of concrete can explode in extreme temperatures. Some composite materials trade strength and economy for fire resistance. Only research and testing, Kodur said, can reveal structural weaknesses and offer improvements.

In 2001, while working in Canada, Kodur was the only non-U.S. expert at World Trade Center ground zero to do a post-mortem of the structural failure and to participate in generating an extensive report. More recently, he weighed in on the collapse of a highway overpass in Oakland, Calif., following a tanker crash.

In both cases it wasn’t the blast or impact that felled the structures, but fire.

Fire, Kodur said, presents unique challenges. No two fires are alike and there is little in the way of standards for fire design. Blazes can vary depending on location (a first-floor kitchen fire affects structures differently than a basement furnace blaze), and origin (airplane fuel flowing through a building’s interior acts differently than truck fuel exploding beneath a bridge).

“It is so easy to start a fire,” Kodur said. “It’s such an easy threat and structures, like skyscrapers and bridges, are the lifeline for our economy, and we need to know how to protect them. We need to better train our engineers in this area.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Fire And Structural Safety A Hot Topic For Engineers, And The Nation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070605120919.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2007, June 10). Fire And Structural Safety A Hot Topic For Engineers, And The Nation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070605120919.htm
Michigan State University. "Fire And Structural Safety A Hot Topic For Engineers, And The Nation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070605120919.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins