Advanced Steel Construction

Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 589-602 (2010)



Hong Liang, Stephen Welch* and José L. Torero

BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering, University of Edinburgh,

King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JL, United Kingdom

*(Corresponding author: E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Received: 25 February 2008; Revised: 6 March 2009; Accepted: 11 March 2009




View Article   Export Citation: Plain Text | RIS | Endnote


A novel CFD-based methodology for thermal analysis of protected steelwork in fire has been developed to overcome the limitations of existing methodologies. This is a generalised quasi-3D approach with computation of a "steel temperature field" parameter in each computational cell. It accommodates both uncertainties in the input parameters and possible variants to the specification by means of many simultaneous thermal calculations. A framework for the inclusion of temperature/time-dependent thermal properties, including the effects of moisture and intumescence, has been established. The method has been implemented as the GeniSTELA submodel within SOFIE RANS CFD code. The model is validated with respect to the BRE large compartment fire tests. Sensitivity studies reveal the expected strong dependencies on certain properties of thermal protection materials. The computational requirements are addressed to confirm the practicability of the tool in simultaneously running a large number of parametric variants. Ultimately, the steel temperature field prediction provided by GeniSTELA provides far more flexibility in assessing the thermal response of structures to fire than has been available hitherto; hence it could be further used for the structural response analysis, demonstrating the potential practical use of the method to improve the efficiency and safety of the relevant structural fire safety design.



CFD; thermal analysis; quasi-3D; GeniSTELA; SOFIE


[1]       British Standards Institution, “Eurocode 3: Design of Steel Structures – Part 1-2: General Rules – Structure Fire Design”, 2002.

[2]       Welch, S., Miles, S. Kumar, S., Lemaire, T. and Chan, A., “FIRESTRUC - Integrating Advanced Three-dimensional Modelling Methodologies for Predicting Thermo-mechanical Behaviour of Steel and Composite Structures Subjected to Natural Fires”, Proceedings of 9th International IAFSS Symposium, 2008, Karlsruhe, Germany.

[3]       Kumar, S., Welch, S., Miles, S.D., Cajot, L.-G., Haller, M., Ojanguren, M., Barco, J., Hostikka, S., Max, U. and Röhrle, A., “Natural Fire Safety Concept - The Development and Validation of a CFD-based Engineering Methodology for Evaluating Thermal Action on Steel and Composite Structures”, European Commission Report EUR 21444 EN, 2005, Vol. 150 pp. ISBN 92-894-9594-4.

[4]       Lewis, M.J., Moss, J.B. and Rubini, P.A., “CFD Modelling of Combustion and Heat Transfer in Compartment Fires”, Proceedings of 5th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science, 1997, pp. 463-474.

[5]       Liang, H. and Welch, S., “A Novel Engineering Tool for Thermal Analysis of Structural Members in Natural Fires”, Proceedings of 4th International Workshop on Structures in Fire, 2006, Aveiro, Portugal. Also available:

[6]       Liang, H., Welch, S. Stratford, T. and Kinsella, E.V., “Development and Validation of a Generalised Engineering Methodology for Thermal Analysis of Structural Members in Fire”, Proceedings of 5th International Seminar Fire & Explosion Hazards, 2007, Edinburgh, UK. Also available:

[7]       Carslaw, H.S. and Jaeger, J.C., “Conduction of Heat in Solids”, Oxford University, 1959.

[8]       Goode, M.G. (ed.), “Fire Protection of Structural Steel in High-rise Buildings”, NIST GCR 04-872, 2004.

[9]       Jimenez, M., Duquesne, S. and Bourbigot, S., “Characterisation of the Performance of An Intumescent Fire Protective Coating”, Surface and Coatings Technology, 2006, Vol. 201, issue 3-4, pp. 979-987.

[10]     Bailey, C.G., “Advances in Fire Engineering Design of Steel Structures”, Proceedings of ICE, Structures and Buildings, 2006, Vol. 159, issue SBI, pp. 21-35.

[11]     Bartholmai, M., Schriever, R. and Schartel, B., “Influence of External Heat Flux and Coating Thickness on the Thermal Properties of Two Different Intumescent Coatings using Cone Calorimeter and Numerical Analysis”, Fire and Materials, 2003, Vol. ?????, pp. 151-162.

[12]     Bartholmai, M. and Schartel, B., “Assessing the Performance of Intumescent Coatings using Bench-scaled Cone Calorimeter and Finite Difference Simulations”, Fire and Materials, 2007, Vol. 31, pp. 187-205.

[13]     Bailey, C.G., “Indicative Fire Tests to Investigate the Behaviour of Cellular Beams Protected with Intumescent Coatings”, Fire Safety Journal, 2006, Vol. 36, No. 8, pp. 689-700.

[14]     Desanghere, S. and Joyeux, D., “Development of Design Rules for the Fire Behaviour of External Steel Structures”, ECSC Project No. 7210-PR-380, Final Report, 2005.

[15]     Tan, K.H., Wang, Z.H. and Au, S.K., “Heat Transfer Analysis for Steelwork Insulated by Intumescent Paint Exposed to Standard Fire Conditions”, Proceedings of 3rd International Workshop on Structures in Fire, 2004, Ottawa, Canada.

[16]     Welch, S., Jowsey, A., Deeny, S., Morgan, R. and Torero, J.L., “BRE Large Compartment Fire Tests – Characterising Post-flashover Fires for Model Validation”, Fire Safety Journal, 2007, Vol. 42, pp. 548-567.

[17]     Staggs, J. and Phylaktou, H., “The Effects of Emissivity on the Performance of Steel in Furnace Tests”, Fire Safety Journal, 2008, Vol. 43, pp. 1-10.

[18]     Liang, H., Welch, S., Faure, L., and Gillie, M., “Proceedings of International Conference on Applications of Structural Fire Engineering”, 2009, Prague, Czech Republic.