Numerical models to simulate the thermal performance of LSF wall panels

Gunawan, Leonardus (2011) Numerical models to simulate the thermal performance of LSF wall panels. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Fire safety of buildings has been recognised as very important by the building industry and the community at large. Gypsum plasterboards are widely used to protect light gauge steel frame (LSF) walls all over the world. Gypsum contains free and chemically bound water in its crystal structure. Plasterboard also contains gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The dehydration of gypsum and the decomposition of calcium carbonate absorb heat, and thus are able to protect LSF walls from fires. Kolarkar and Mahendran (2008) developed an innovative composite wall panel system, where the insulation was sandwiched between two plasterboards to improve the thermal and structural performance of LSF wall panels under fire conditions. In order to understand the performance of gypsum plasterboards and LSF wall panels under standard fire conditions, many experiments were conducted in the Fire Research Laboratory of Queensland University of Technology (Kolarkar, 2010). Fire tests were conducted on single, double and triple layers of Type X gypsum plasterboards and load bearing LSF wall panels under standard fire conditions. However, suitable numerical models have not been developed to investigate the thermal performance of LSF walls using the innovative composite panels under standard fire conditions. Continued reliance on expensive and time consuming fire tests is not acceptable. Therefore this research developed suitable numerical models to investigate the thermal performance of both plasterboard assemblies and load bearing LSF wall panels. SAFIR, a finite element program, was used to investigate the thermal performance of gypsum plasterboard assemblies and LSF wall panels under standard fire conditions. Appropriate values of important thermal properties were proposed for plasterboards and insulations based on laboratory tests, literature review and comparisons of finite element analysis results of small scale plasterboard assemblies from this research and corresponding experimental results from Kolarkar (2010). The important thermal properties (thermal conductivity, specific heat capacity and density) of gypsum plasterboard and insulation materials were proposed as functions of temperature and used in the numerical models of load bearing LSF wall panels. Using these thermal properties, the developed finite element models were able to accurately predict the time temperature profiles of plasterboard assemblies while they predicted them reasonably well for load bearing LSF wall systems despite the many complexities that are present in these LSF wall systems under fires. This thesis presents the details of the finite element models of plasterboard assemblies and load bearing LSF wall panels including those with the composite panels developed by Kolarkar and Mahendran (2008). It examines and compares the thermal performance of composite panels developed based on different insulating materials of varying densities and thicknesses based on 11 small scale tests, and makes suitable recommendations for improved fire performance of stud wall panels protected by these composite panels. It also presents the thermal performance data of LSF wall systems and demonstrates the superior performance of LSF wall systems using the composite panels. Using the developed finite element of models of LSF walls, this thesis has proposed new LSF wall systems with increased fire rating. The developed finite element models are particularly useful in comparing the thermal performance of different wall panel systems without time consuming and expensive fire tests.

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ID Code: 49856
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Mahendran, Mahen & Poologanathan, Keerthan
Keywords: light gauge cold-formed steel frame structures
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 24 Apr 2012 02:33
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2012 02:42

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