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Fire safety experts from the University of Ulster are conducting new research that could help revolutionise the construction industry. 

Ali Faris, Professor of Structural Engineering from the Built Environment Research Institute, has secured over a quarter of a million pounds from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to investigate the fire resistance of a new type of steel column.  

Steel columns with elliptical sections are a relatively new product available to structural engineers and they have attracted considerable interest because of their architectural appeal and structural efficiency. However a complete absence of fire resistance design guidance is restraining the use of this new and potentially revolutionary product.  

Professor Faris’ research will be the first of its kind to be carried out anywhere in the world on the new steel material.  

“We will use advanced computer modelling techniques as well high standard fire tests carried out in controlled conditions at the University of Ulster’s state-of-the-art FireSERT facility to greatly enhance our knowledge of how these elliptical steel columns react in fire scenarios,” explains Professor Faris. 

“We will also investigate the performance of the elliptical steel sections when subjected to severe fire and as a result of the tests and finite element study carried out we will be able to develop preliminary fire design guidance and regulations which will be of great benefit to the construction industry.”