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Hybrid fire testing: Discussion on stability and implementation of a new method in a virtual environment

Ana Sauca (Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)
Thomas Gernay (Department of Civil Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Fabienne Robert (CERIB, Fire Testing Center, Epernon, France)
Nicola Tondini (Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Trento, Italy)
Jean-Marc Franssen (Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)

Journal of Structural Fire Engineering

ISSN: 2040-2317

Article publication date: 12 January 2018

Issue publication date: 16 October 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a method for hybrid fire testing (HFT) which is unconditionally stable, ensures equilibrium and compatibility at the interface and captures the global behavior of the analyzed structure. HFT is a technique that allows assessing experimentally the fire performance of a structural element under real boundary conditions that capture the effect of the surrounding structure.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper starts with the analysis of the method used in the few previous HFT. Based on the analytical study of a simple one degree-of-freedom elastic system, it is shown that this previous method is fundamentally unstable in certain configurations that cannot be easily predicted in advance. Therefore, a new method is introduced to overcome the stability problem. The method is applied in a virtual hybrid test on a 2D reinforced concrete beam part of a moment-resisting frame.

Findings

It is shown through analytical developments and applicative examples that the stability of the method used in previous HFT depends on the stiffness ratio between the two substructures. The method is unstable when implemented in force control on a physical substructure that is less stiff than the surrounding structure. Conversely, the method is unstable when implemented in displacement control on a physical substructure stiffer than the remainder. In multi-degrees-of-freedom tests where the temperature will affect the stiffness of the elements, it is generally not possible to ensure continuous stability throughout the test using this former method. Therefore, a new method is proposed where the stability is not dependent on the stiffness ratio between the two substructures. Application of the new method in a virtual HFT proved to be stable, to ensure compatibility and equilibrium at the interface and to reproduce accurately the global structural behavior.

Originality/value

The paper provides a method to perform hybrid fire tests which overcomes the stability problem lying in the former method. The efficiency of the new method is demonstrated in a virtual HFT with three degrees-of-freedom at the interface, the next step being its implementation in a real (laboratory) hybrid test.

Keywords

Citation

Sauca, A., Gernay, T., Robert, F., Tondini, N. and Franssen, J.-M. (2018), "Hybrid fire testing: Discussion on stability and implementation of a new method in a virtual environment", Journal of Structural Fire Engineering, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 319-341. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSFE-01-2017-0017

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited