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Visualization of Structural Behavior under Fire



Dilip K. Banerjee, William J. Hess, Thomas M. Olano, Judith E. Terrill, John L. Gross


An integrated environment was created to study the interaction among fire, heat transfer, and structural deformation from a typical room fire. The fire, thermal, and structural data were linked with a separate 3-D visualization capability, to provide the ability to visualize in real time the thermal and structural behavior of a chosen structural component in a room subjected to a typical fire in an Immersive Visualization Environment (IVE). In this initial study a single beam in a room was used for our structural system. A sequential process was followed in which first the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) program was used to simulate the start and development of fire in the room. Then a second computer program was used to calculate how the gas temperature computed by FDS propagated into the beam. Finally, a third computer program was used to compute how the beam deformed over time due to combined effects of thermal and mechanical loads. The three outputs from these computer programs were used in two separate visualization methods that were developed to display the computed results in an IVE. One visualization method was based on polygons and the other was a GPU based ray traced volumetric rendering. In the next phase of the project, the behavior of other structural components including connections will be studied. Also, the capability to extract and dynamically plot relevant numerical data at specified surfaces or at a specific location will be incorporated. This capability might be useful in providing a real time insight into the possibility of an impending collapse due to a fire.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7619
Report Number


fire, immersive, visualization


Banerjee, D. , Hess, W. , Olano, T. , Terrill, J. and Gross, J. (2009), Visualization of Structural Behavior under Fire, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created August 11, 2009, Updated October 12, 2021