The effect of polypropylene fibres within concrete with regard to fire performance in structures

Alan Richardson, Urmil V. Dave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of various polypropylene fibre additions (types and volume) to concrete with regard to explosive spalling when subject to high temperatures similar to those experienced in building or tunnel fires. Design/methodology/approach – Medium strength concrete was manufactured with varying proportions of polypropylene fibres. Plain control samples were used to determine the original concrete strength and this was used as a benchmark following high temperature heat tests to evaluate the surface condition and final compressive strength. A pilot study was used to determine an appropriate heat source for the test. This was three Bunsen burners, however sufficient heat could not be generated within 150mm concrete cubes and the concrete was shown to be a significant insulator and fire protection for structural members. The concrete test cubes were tested in a saturated condition which may reflect conditions where concrete is used in an external environment and thus is subject to soaking. Findings – One hundred and fifty millimetre concrete cubes with and without fibres were placed into a furnace at 1,000°C. Explosive spalling was shown to be reduced with the use of polypropylene fibres but the final compressive strength of concrete was significantly reduced and had little residual structural value after a two hour period of heating. Research limitations/implications – As the concrete tested was saturated, this condition provided a worst case scenario with regards to the build up of hydrostatic and vapour pressure within the cube. A range of percentage moisture contents would produce a more evenly balanced view of the effects of fibres in concrete. A single grade of concrete was used for the test. As the permeability of concrete influences the rate at which steam can escape from the interior of a saturated concrete cube, testing a range of concrete strengths would show this aspect of material performance with regard to spalling and final residual strength. Further research is recommended with regard to moisture contents, strengths of concrete and a range of temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-444
JournalStructural Survey
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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