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Current funded projects within FireSERT

Projects currently being researched within FireSERT.

Ultra high performance of UHPFRC beams in fire.

Funder: Vocational College Research Services (VCRS)
Duration:01 September 2013 – 30 September 16
Staff Involved: Professor Faris Ali

Fibre Reinforced Concrete, is one of the relatively new building materials that have been introduced to the construction industry. The research project involves experimental testing of UHPFRC beams subjected to the ISO 834 fire under three different loading levels- 20%, 40% and 60%. A concrete strength up to 173 MPa was achieved in this study. The beams are cured in cold and hot water. The main objective of this research is to study the fire resistance of the beams under the ISO 834 heating curve while imposing a constant load corresponding to 20%, 40% and 60% load ratios equivalent to 25kN, 50kN and 75kN. A four-point loading profile was adopted in the tests. The project focuses on severe spalling which reduces the fire resistance of the beams significantly.

Temperature assessment of a vertical steel member subjected to localized fire

Funder: CEC Coal and Steel
Duration: 2012-2015
Staff Involved: Professor Ali Nadjai

The objective is to provide designers with scientific evidence that will allow them to design steel columns subjected to localised fires such as those which may arise in car parks for example. At the time being models and regulations exist for beams located under the ceiling, but nothing is available for columns, and this situation may lead to unnecessary and excessive thermal insulation that jeopardises the competitiveness of the whole steel project.

Proof of concept U400

Funder: Invest NI
Duration: 01/12/14 – 01/12/15
Staff Involved: Professor Faris Ali

The Smart FBPS (Smart Fire-Blast Protection system) is an invention with enormous applications in civil, anti-terrorism, defense and military sectors. The innovative Smart FBPS aims to provide superior protection for personnel and buildings against blasts and fires at a tenth of the cost of conventional, competing systems. The superiority of the Smart FBPS in blast resisting is supported by a combination of patents which involve the use of a new type of concrete panels which provides unique and efficient “panel thickness/blast resistance” ratio allowing the panels to be produced in a smaller thickness (relative to other products in the market) hence reducing the cost and maintaining the ability to resist a higher range of blast force.

Performance of ultra shallow floor beams (USFB) in buildings subjected to fires

Funder: Vocational College Research Services (VCRS)
Duration: 2015- 2018
Staff Involved: Professor Ali Nadjai

Slimfloor (or integrated beam) construction has become popular throughout Europe in recent years, as it provides a steel-concrete floor construction of minimum depth. This is opposed to traditional composite constructions, which are more efficient for longer spans (> 10 m), Slimfloor construction offers opportunities for steel in span ranges between 5 to 10 m. The key feature of Slimfloor construction is that the steel beams are embedded within the slab depth, resulting in an overall structural depth of between 280 to 320 mm. Typically the floor plate consists of either a composite slab using deep decking, or precast concrete hollow core units, which span between the beams. This type of construction is particularly suitable for square grids. In order to ascertain the structural behavior of slim floor systems, a comprehensive amount of experimental and numerical research has been widely conducted with respect to various aspects, such as the robustness of shear bond formed between embedded steel section and concrete, the contribution of beam-to-column connection, web openings and the flexural section capacity of asymmetric beams.

Fusion project - Development of bullet resistance timber door

Funder: Essexford Joinery
01 March 2014 – 01 September 2015
Staff Involved: Professor Faris Ali

The project objective is to identify, research & develop, test and refine for production purposes a combined / cross over fire and level 1 & 2 ballistic timber faced door for high end residential, office sector and potentially security/military accommodation market. This under the headings of market need/suitability, materials, physical product structure and composition/design, fire and ballistic testing suitability/requirements, development of a cost effective product for production within existing manufacturing techniques and processes.

Experimental and modelling large-area fires: Phase I and II

Funder: Atomic Weapons Establishment
Duration:01 June 2014 – 31 August 2016
Staff Involved:Prof Michael Delichatsios, Dr Jianping Zhang

The first phase of this project was the experimental and numerical study of turbulent helium plumes modelling very large-scale mass fires. Having the objective to determine and correlate the induced velocity near the ground in terms of buoyancy or equivalent heat release rate and the diameter of the source fire. The second phase of the project focuses on the flammability of modern materials, heat transfer and fire resistance through walls. The specific objectives are to (a) survey and estimate flammable materials, fuel loadings and their geometries; (b) estimate the fire damage which different flammable materials will sustain after burning is initiated based on key material flammability properties determined from micro- and small-scale tests and (c) estimate the condition and time-scale in which a fire on one side of a wall leads to flaming conditions in an adjoining room on the other side of the wall based on published data, standard test results or calculated from known conductivity and integrity properties of their consistent materials.

Experimental investigation on sprinkler performance during fire in M&S commercial stores

Funder: Marks & Spencer Ltd
Duration:01 July 2015 - 31 May 2016
Staff Involved:Professor Ali Nadjai

Generally, sprinkler systems are considered reliable and effective when properly designed, installed and maintained. Research shows that between 2003 and 2007, sprinklers operated in 93% of all fires large enough to cause actuation and were effective in 97% of the fires in which they operated. However, buildings are dynamic, and in the modern era of design flexibility, structures are increasingly subject to changes in characteristics, use and function.Over time, new tenants replace old ones, walls may be removed, added or altered, protected commodities can change, and sprinkler systems may require modification. From its initial installation, the sprinkler system waits patiently through the changes, and perhaps someday in the event of a fire, will have an opportunity to spring into action. What occurs to the protected occupancies and the system after the initial installation, up to the time of a fire, can have a profound impact on sprinkler system effectiveness.

ELISSA (energy efficient lightweight-sustainable-safe-steel construction)

Funder: CEC, FP7 (CEC Framework 7)
Duration: 01 September 2014 – 31 August 2016
Staff Involved: Professor Michael Delichatsios and Dr Jianping Zhang

ELISSA targets the development, testing, assessment and demonstration of nano-enhanced lightweight steel skeleton/dry wall systems with improved thermal, vibration/seismic and fire performance.  FireSERT is responsible for studying the fire performance of vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) that are used as an alternative to traditional insulations such as mineral wool and intumescent fire retardants (IFRs). Flammability and fire resistance of VIPs capsulated in both polymers and gypsum boards and IFRs are examined using the cone calorimeter, single burning item (SBI) and indicative furnace test (1.5x1.5x1.5 m3). Based on the experimental data, a numerical model is developed to predict the burning behaviors' of VIPS and IFRs applied on various substrates including steel plates, wood, plaster board and polymer nanocomposites. Large-scale tests of the complete wall system are also conducted in a full-scale furnace (3x3x4 m3).

Development of advanced PBD method using innovative fire protection material

Funder: Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy
Duration: 01 November 2008 – 31 December 2016
Staff Involved: Dr Seng-kwan Choi, Prof Ali Nadjai

This project aims to understand the interacting thermal-structural behaviour of a water-based inorganic intumescent-type fire retardant system at elevated temperatures and to evaluate its thermal performance for applications in fire safety engineering. Once exposed to heat, this system undergoes multiple simultaneous phenomena of (i) thermochemical reaction, (ii) formation of internal porous structure, and (iii) movement of external boundaries. Such heat-related combined behaviours are clearly demonstrated from both experimental and numerical approaches. This research program is constructed in four stages: fundamental material tests (utilising thermogravimetric analyse, differential scanning calorimetry, and electronic furnace) and bench-scale fire tests (using cone calorimetry); clarification of thermal boundaries of the intumescent specimen subjected to test apparatus; numerical simulations on mechanisms of heat transmission through porous structures and intumescence; and verification of the proposed numerical solution. The experimental and numerical examinations systematically interpret the overall thermal-structural mechanism, from microscopic characteristics based on thermo-kinetics to macroscopic behaviours based on heat transfer and thermal expansion.

EENSULATE - Development of innovative lightweight and highly insulating energy efficient components and associated enabling materials for cost-effective retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades

Funder: EU, Horizon 2020

Duration: 01 August 2016 - 31 January 2020

Staff Involved:Dr T Hyde and Dr J Zhang

Eensulate will aim to develop an affordable, highly insulating and lightweight solution for transparent envelopes to bring existing curtain wall buildings to “nearly zero energy” standards, thereby reducing energy bills while complying with the structural limits of the original building and national building codes.

FireSERT will work with key industry partners on the development and evaluation of flammability and toxicity of innovative mono-component and bi-components insulation foams used for the installation of glazing systems on building facades. FireSERT will also perform large-scale tests to assess the fire performance of the final complete wall assembly.

TRAFIR: Characterization of TRAvelling FIRes in large compartments

Funder: CEC - Coal and Steel

Duration: 01 July 2017 – 31 December 2020

Staff Involved: Prof A Nadjai

Many studies of fires in large compartments reveals that they do not burn uniformly throughout the enclosure. They tend to travel and lead to highly non-uniform temperatures which implies a transient heating of the structure. Travelling fires are not considered in the Eurocodes : the main limit in developping models is the lack of large scale, realistic test results. This project aims to realize such tests and performing numerical simulations to define the conditions in which travelling fire develops, to build an analytical model which evaluate the thermal effect and to create design guidance which improves structural safety.

LOCAFIplus – Temperature assessment of a vertical steel member subjected to localised fire

Funder: CEC - Coal and Steel

Duration: 01 July 2017 – 31 May 2019

Staff Involved: Prof A Nadjai

LOCAFI+ represents the valorisation project of the RFCS project LOCAFI the main objective of which was to provide designers with scientific evidence that will allow them designing steel columns subjected to localised fires such as those that may be present, for example, in car parks. In fact, at the time being, such evidence, models and regulations exist for beams located under the ceiling, but nothing is available for columns, and this situation may lead to unnecessary and excessive thermal insulation that jeopardizes the competitiveness of whole steel projects.

The technical objective of LOCAFI+ is to disseminate the methodology for the fire design of columns under localised fire to practicing engineers in several European countries by exploiting the results obtained in LOCAFI. The transfer of the developed calculation methods into practice will be achieved by national seminars and clearly structured design manuals.