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Large-Scale Structure-Fire Interaction: National Fire Research Laboratory Commissioning Test, Experiment and Modeling



Randall J. McDermott, Glenn P. Forney, Matthew S. Hoehler, Matthew F. Bundy, Lisa Y. Choe, Chao Zhang


The photograph on the left shows a large-scale experiment studying the interaction between fire and mechanically- loaded building elements performed during the commissioning of the National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA [1]. The midspan section of a 6.2 m-long W16×26 structural steel beam is exposed to a 700 kW open flame from the 1 m2 natural gas burner located 1.1 m below the bottom flange of the beam. The purple-blue hue in the photo is caused by high-intensity, near- ultraviolet lighting used to illuminate the beam through the flames. The pattern of dots on the beam is imaged using two scientific cameras and the images are processed using Digital Image Correlation (DIC) to resolve rigid body motion and deformation of the beam. The image on the right shows a large-eddy simulation by the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) [2] of the NFRL commissioning test shown in the left image. The FDS results are visualized using Smokeview [3], a data visualization companion to FDS, also developed at NIST. The resolution of the simulation is 1 cm. The flame is depicted as a volume rendering of local heat release rate above a cutoff of 200 kW/m3. False color contours of adiabatic surface temperature are shown on the I- beam. This boundary condition is taken as input to a finite- element structural analysis code to predict the deformation of the I-beam under load in a realistic fire scenario [4]. The FDS code is an open source, explicit, low-Mach flow solver. Details of the solver may be found in [2].
Gallery of Combustion and Fire
Publisher Info
Cambridge University Press, New York, NY


Structure-Fire Interaction, Large-Eddy Simulation, Fire Dynamics Simulator, National Fire Research Laboratory


McDermott, R. , Forney, G. , Hoehler, M. , Bundy, M. , Choe, L. and Zhang, C. (2020), Large-Scale Structure-Fire Interaction: National Fire Research Laboratory Commissioning Test, Experiment and Modeling, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created May 31, 2020, Updated August 25, 2020