PI: Spencer Quiel
University: Lehigh University
Recent reports from a variety of federal agencies and research organizations have recommended the increased use of performance-based provisions for the design of structures to resist unwanted fire rather than prescriptive methods, which are the current state-of-practice in the US. Performance-based methods examine the changes in demand and capacity that occur as a structural member is heated–these methods also consider the effects of the member's connection to the surrounding structure. Performance-based methods can be used to evaluate the ability of structural systems to survive fire until burnout by using realistic fire temperature time histories that include a decay phase.

The PI of this project is currently engaged in a four-year AISC-funded research project to develop performance-based methods to design and evaluate steel composite floor systems for fire exposure. This PITA project will expand the scope of that project by conducting two large-scale tests of steel composite floor assemblies in the modular structural testing furnace at the ATLSS Laboratory.

The focus of these tests is the influence of axial and rotational restraint on the response of the fire-exposed assembly. Restraint will be provided both to the steel beam via realistic connections and to the slab edges near the beam ends via clamping. The two specimens will be structurally similar, but one will be designed without passive fire protection, while the other will be coated with spray-applied fire resistive materials (SFRM) in accordance with current code criteria. This test data will be invaluable for validating both high-fidelity computational models as well as analytical approaches that are more conducive to design.

This project contributes to the current national momentum toward further developments in structural-fire engineering, which is being led by the ASCE Fire Protection Committee (in which the PI of this project is an active participant) and the National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The PI will collaborate with NIST-NFRL researchers as well as practicing engineers at Simpson, Gumpertz, & Heger (SGH) in order to enhance the impact of the proposed research. The PI will be collaborating with a Pennsylvania company specializing in steel sales and fabrication for specimen donations and to identify avenues to commercialize the outcomes of this research.