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Abstract

Recently, Magnesium Oxide (MgO) board has been widely used in LSF wall systems because of its improved acoustic properties, impact resistance, structural strength and serviceability. However, their thermal properties and fire performance have not been fully investigated. Therefore, in this research study thermal properties of two different types of MgO boards available in Australia were measured and their fire performance was investigated using three full-scale fire tests of LSF walls lined with two types of MgO board. Although the tests were conducted on two different types of MgO boards with different configurations, the fire test results gave a fire resistance level (FRL) of 30 min, in which the failure was initiated by integrity of the board with either board cracking or board joint opening. This paper presents the details of the thermal property tests and the three full-scale fire tests, and their results. In addition, the effects of different MgO boards, joint configurations and compounds, noggings, screw fastening techniques and cavity insulation on the fire performance of LSF walls are also presented.
Fire Tests of Magnesium Oxide Board Lined Light Gauge Steel
Frame Wall Systems
Mohamed Rusthi a, Anthony Ariyanayagam a, Mahen Mahendran a,* and Poologanathan
Keerthan a
a Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia
* Corresponding author’s email address: m.mahendran@qut.edu.au
Abstract
Recently, Magnesium Oxide (MgO) board has been widely used in LSF wall systems
because of its improved acoustic properties, impact resistance, structural strength and
serviceability. However, their thermal properties and fire performance have not been fully
investigated. Therefore, in this research study thermal properties of two different types of
MgO boards available in Australia were measured and their fire performance was
investigated using three full-scale fire tests of LSF walls lined with two types of MgO board.
Although the tests were conducted on two different types of MgO boards with different
configurations, the fire test results gave a fire resistance level (FRL) of 30 minutes, in which
the failure was initiated by integrity of the board with either board cracking or board joint
opening. This paper presents the details of the thermal property tests and the three full-scale
fire tests, and their results. In addition, the effects of different MgO boards, joint
configurations and compounds, noggings, screw fastening techniques and cavity insulation on
the fire performance of LSF walls are also presented.
Keywords: Magnesium Oxide board, Thermal properties, Fire test, Fire performance, Light-
gauge steel frame wall systems
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1 Introduction
Conventional light-gauge steel frame (LSF) wall systems are made of cold-formed steel
stud wall frame, gypsum plasterboard and cavity insulation materials as shown in Figure 1.
When LSF walls are exposed to fire, the mechanical properties of cold-formed steel studs
degrade rapidly beyond about 500°C, which may cause premature structural failure of the
wall compared to ambient temperature. Therefore, it is necessary to provide sufficient fire
protection to the steel stud wall frame to avoid direct fire exposure as well as delay the
temperature rise of steel to improve the fire resistance of LSF wall systems.
Figure 1. Conventional LSF wall configuration
When there is fire on one side of the LSF wall, gypsum plasterboard lining on the fire
side keep the stud temperatures below the failure limits. Also, the wall board temperatures on
the unexposed side are kept below their limits. In addition to these, plasterboards provide
lateral restraint to the steel wall frame, all of which leads to increased stud failure times and
hence improves the fire resistance levels (FRLs) of LSF wall systems. The FRLs are defined
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in AS 1530.4 [1] based on three criteria when LSF wall panels are exposed to the standard
fire time-temperature profile on one side. They are: 1) structural: wall must continue to carry
the design loads, 2) integrity: wall's integrity is not affected to allow the passage of hot gases
or flames through the wall and 3) insulation: wall's insulation to restrict heat passing through
the wall (i.e., the change in ambient or unexposed wall surface temperature should not exceed
140 ºC on average or 180 ºC at any point.
LSF wall fire performance is mainly dependent on the fire resistant wall board lining,
which delays the heat transfer through wall and the temperature rise in steel studs. Recent
research studies performed by Gunalan et al. [2] and Ariyanayagam and Mahendran [3]
focused on full-scale fire tests of load bearing LSF walls made of conventional lipped
channel section (LCS) studs and gypsum plasterboard lining. Test wall panels (2.1 m × 2.4
m) were exposed to standard and realistic design fires in their studies. Kesawan and
Mahendran [4] and Jatheeshan and Mahendran [5] performed full-scale standard fire tests on
LSF walls made of hollow flange channel section studs and gypsum plasterboard lining while
Nassif et al. [6] also conducted a full scale standard fire test of LSF wall made of LCS studs
but used a larger LSF wall panel (3 m × 3 m). These fire tests provided comprehensive time-
temperature profiles for various LSF wall configurations made of different stud sections,
gypsum plasterboard lining and cavity insulation materials that can be used to predict their
fire performance.
Recently, Australian building industries have been using new wall lining materials in LSF
wall system to enhance their acoustic properties, impact resistance, structural strength and
serviceability. However, the fundamental understanding of the new lining materials such as
Magnesium Oxide (MgO) boards is lacking in relation to their performance in fire. In
contrast to the LSF walls lined with gypsum plasterboards, there are only limited research
studies on LSF walls lined with MgO boards. In addition to that, there are no full-scale fire
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test time-temperature profiles for MgO board lined LSF walls and the thermal property
variation with temperature is also not available for Australian MgO boards. Chen et al. [7-9]
performed full-scale fire tests on load bearing LSF walls made of LCS studs and lined with a
combination of gypsum plasterboard and MgO board. These LSF walls (3.4 m × 3.0 m) were
tested under standard fire time-temperature exposure. Their fire test results showed that the
combination of one layer of MgO board and one layer of gypsum plasterboard gave increased
failure time than two layers of gypsum plasterboard. However, the LSF wall configuration
with only MgO board was not tested in their experimental study.
Hanna et al. [10] carried out full-scale standard fire tests on load bearing LSF walls (3.0
m × 2.7 m) made of LCS studs and MgO boards and the time-temperature profiles of the LSF
wall components were measured at various locations. Although cracks were observed on the
ambient side at about 40 minutes, the test was continued until the cracks were wide open at
about 50 minutes to allow hot gases to pass through the cracks that could ignite a piece of
cotton on the unexposed surface. Post-fire observations indicated that partial wall board fall
off and bowing occurred on the fire exposed surface. As Hanna et al. [10] focused on the
post-fire behaviour of the steel studs, no further details are provided on the fire performance
of MgO board. As this is the only full-scale fire test with MgO board lining reported in the
research literature, further studies are necessary to understand the fire performance of MgO
board lined LSF wall systems.
Full-scale standard fire tests were therefore conducted in this study to gain additional
information on the fire performance of MgO board lined LSF wall systems. In addition,
thermal properties including specific heat, mass loss and thermal conductivity of these boards
at elevated temperatures were also measured to support the fire test findings. This paper
presents the details of the experimental study on the thermal properties of two types of MgO
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boards (referred to as Types 1 and 2 in this paper) available in the Australian market and the
three full-scale fire tests conducted on MgO board lined LSF wall systems.
2 Properties of Magnesium Oxide (MgO) Boards
2.1 Chemical Composition
The main constituents of the boards are Magnesium oxide (MgO) and Magnesium
chloride (MgCl2) as shown in Table 1 based on their manufacturer data sheets. In contrast to
Type-1 board, Type-2 board has higher MgO and lower MgCl2 contents. Other constituents
such as Perlite, woodchip and fiberglass are added to enhance the properties such as
lightweight, insulation, workability and acoustic properties. Instead of Perlite, additional
fiberglass is used in Type-2 board. The chemical composition of MgO board can be written
as Mg(OH)2.MgCl2.H2O.
Table 1. MgO board chemical composition
Chemical name Weight percentage
Type 1 Type 2
Magnesium oxide (MgO) 40% 50-53%
Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 27-35% 20-28%
Perlite 5-10% 0%
Woodchip 15% 2-10%
Fiberglass 5-8% 18-19%
2.2 Thermal Property Tests
Thermal properties are required to understand the thermal behaviour of wall lining
materials, especially when they are used in fire rated wall systems. Thermal properties that
include specific heat, mass loss and thermal conductivity were measured using representative
samples collected from the wall board component. Thermal properties of Type-1 and 2 MgO
boards were measured in an experimental study using simultaneous thermal analyser
(NETZSCH STA 449F3), which is capable of measuring the specific heat variation using
differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) technique and the mass loss or relative density using
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thermo gravimetric analysis (TGA) technique. Thermal property tests were conducted in a
purged Nitrogen environment within a temperature range of 50 ºC 1200 ºC at a constant
heating rate of 20 ºC/min. Tests were conducted according to the standard procedures
stipulated in ASTM E1269 [11] using platinum (Pt) crucibles lined with Alumina (Al2O3)
liners and pin holed lids.
The measured specific heat variations with temperature are shown in Figure 2. The
specific heat peaks for Type-1 and 2 boards are considerably different from each other. There
are two major peaks observed in both MgO board types with Type-1 board having higher
specific heat values compared to Type-2 board. Although both boards exhibit similar peak
patterns, an increase in specific heat for Type-1 board can be observed at about 200 ºC, which
is about 3,000 J/kg/ºC higher than Type-2 board. There are five specific heat peaks as shown
in Figure 2 and they are attributed to the chemical reactions and dehydration processes given
in Equations 1 – 5 [9].
The specific heat peaks are observed at the same temperature for both types of MgO
boards. For Type-1 and 2 boards, the first two peaks occurred at 180 ºC and 230 ºC, which
were induced by the dehydration of magnesium oxychloride (Equations 1 and 2) where
evaporation of water can be observed during this process. The third and fourth peaks
occurred at 400 ºC and 475 ºC, which indicate the hydrolysis (Equations 3 and 4) and
pyrolysis reactions where HCl is released. The final peak was observed at 520 ºC, which is
the further release of chemically bound water in the MgO board. These observations are
similar to those made by Chen et al. [9] in relation to the MgO board they used.
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0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
0
2000
4000
6000
8000
10000
Type-1 Type-2
Temperature (ºC)
Specific Heat (J/kg/ºC)
Figure 2. Specific heat variation with temperature
5Mg(OH)2.MgCl2.8H2O 5Mg(OH)2 . MgCl2 + 8H2O (1)
3Mg(OH)2.MgCl2.8H2O 3Mg(OH)2 . MgCl2 + 8H2O (2)
5Mg(OH)2.MgCl2 4Mg(OH)2 + 2MgO + 2HCl (3)
3Mg(OH)2.MgCl2 2Mg(OH)2 + 2MgO + 2HCl (4)
Mg(OH)2 MgO + H2O (5)
The measured mass loss variations of the tested boards are shown in Figure 3. Both
boards exhibit similar pattern in mass loss with Type-1 board showing higher mass loss than
Type-2 board, which can be related to the higher specific heat values seen in Type-1 board.
Type-1 board shows a mass loss of 20% at about 300 ºC, whereas in Type-2 board similar
mass loss occurs at about 375 ºC. At the end of the test, the final mass loss is about 48% and
44% in Type-1 and 2 boards, respectively. The higher mass loss observed in these tests
(>40%) may cause shrinkage cracks of the board, which will eventually affect their fire
performance as well as that of walls lined with these boards.
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0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
0
20
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60
80
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Type-1 Type-2
Temperature (ºC)
Mass Loss (%)
Figure 3. Mass loss variation with temperature
Thermal conductivity of Type-1 and 2 MgO boards were measured using laser flash
analysis (LFA) equipment from 50 ºC to 500 ºC. Representative samples of 10 mm × 10 mm
× 2 mm were cut from the boards and were used to measure the thermal conductivity. Figure
4 shows the measured thermal conductivity value, in which Type-2 MgO board exhibits
higher thermal conductivity than Type-1 MgO board. This is mainly due the difference in
composition in these two boards. The initial temperature (50 ºC) thermal conductivity values
are 0.39 and 0.47 (W/mºC), respectively for Type-1 and 2 boards. The thermal conductivity
values continue to reduce at higher temperatures, where they are reduced by almost 50% of
the initial value at 500 ºC.
0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
Type-1 Type-2
Temperature (ºC)
Thermal Conductivity (W/mºC)
Figure 4. Thermal conductivity variation with temperature
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2.3 Small-scale Furnace Tests
Small-scale tests of Type-1 MgO board were conducted to understand its behaviour at
elevated temperatures before performing full-scale fire tests, so that the performance of the
board itself can be investigated. Tests were conducted in an electric furnace using small-scale
samples of 450 mm × 450 mm steel frame lined on one side with 10 mm thick MgO board as.
The test specimens were placed inside the furnace with the top side exposed to heat from the
furnace coils. The furnace was closed so that there is no heat loss to the environment, and
then the test specimens were heated up to 450 and 750 oC over a period of 30 and 45 minutes,
respectively.
The small-scale test specimens were taken out of the furnace after cooling them to the
ambient temperature. Figure 5 shows the test specimens at different temperatures. The
specimen that was heated to 450 ºC showed a crack at the centre which extended further
towards the screw positions. This crack might have initiated after the completion of
dehydration reactions in the MgO board. At 750 ºC the specimen showed significant cracking
of the board. This is due to the very high mass loss discussed earlier. Since these tests were
conducted inside an electric furnace without direct fire exposure, full-scale fire tests are
needed to investigate this behaviour of MgO board lined LSF wall systems, which will be
discussed next.
(a) Test specimen at 28 oC
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Screws at 200 mm
spacing
Steel frame
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(b) Test specimen at 450 oC
(c) Test specimen at 750 oC
Figure 5. Small-scale test specimens exposed to different elevated temperatures
3 Full-Scale Fire Tests of Non-Load Bearing LSF Walls Lined with MgO Board
3.1 Test Wall Configurations
The full-scale fire tests consisted of three non-load bearing LSF walls of 3.15 m × 3.15 m,
which were tested in accordance with AS 1530.4: 2005 [1] using a propane gas furnace
programmed to follow the standard fire time-temperature curve. The fire time-temperature
curve of the furnace was regulated by eight mineral insulated, metal sheathed (MIMS)
thermocouples with an overall diameter of 3mm inside the furnace. Since these tests were to
be performed as non-load bearing walls, six hydraulic jacks were used directly under the steel
studs to support the self-weight of the test wall panel. Additional load exerted on the studs
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during the fire test due to thermal expansion was released by the hydraulic jacks to ensure no
load acted on the steel studs.
Table 2 shows the tested wall configurations. The LSF wall in Test 1 was built with 10
mm thick Type-1 MgO board while the other two test walls were lined with 10 mm thick
Type-2 MgO board. Both MgO board types have fibre glass mesh layers on both sides to
protect the board and to provide sufficient strength. Test 3 wall had glass fibre insulation
materials inside the wall cavity.
Table 2. Test wall configurations
Test
No. Configuration MgO
board type
Insulation
material Noggings Board
joints
1 Type-1 None Noggings at
600 mm c/c Horizontal
2 Type-2 None None Vertical
3 Type-2 Glass fibre None Vertical
The LSF walls were built with six stiffened channel studs (92 × 35 × 15 × 1.15 mm) with
a yield strength of 300 MPa and the spacing was 600 mm c/c. The studs were fixed between
two tracks at the top and bottom, and then lined with 10 mm thick Type-1 or Type-2 MgO
boards with or without cavity insulation (Table 2). Figure 6 shows the full details of a test
wall configuration (Test 2). Test 3 wall panel configuration is similar to that shown in Figure
6. However, Test 1 wall panel had noggings at 600 mm nominal spacing and thus included
horizontal joints between MgO boards. In all three tests, the board was only fixed to the
studs.
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Figure 6 LSF wall configuration of Test 2
3.2 Specimen Construction
3.2.1 Test 1
The test wall construction was carried out in two stages. Stage-1 consisted of building the
steel frame made of studs, tracks and noggings and then the first layer of MgO board was
fixed to the steel frame on one side as shown in Figure 7. The studs were aligned vertically at
a spacing of 600 mm between the top and bottom tracks and then fixed with 8-gauge, D-
Type, flat head, self-drilling and non-corrosive screws. The size of the MgO board used in
this test was 1200 mm × 3000 mm. The noggings were fixed at 600 mm spacing between the
studs to support the horizontal board joints.
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Figure 7. Test 1 wall configuration with one side board and noggings during Stage-1
Figure 8 shows the details of the horizontal board joints. In order to enhance the bonding
and seal the gap between the board and the steel, a fire rated sealant was applied on the steel
to form a uniform layer as shown in Figure 8a. This fire rated sealant is an acrylic based
sealing compound that can accommodate a maximum joint movement of +12.5%. The boards
were fixed to the steel frame by maintaining a gap of about 5 mm between the boards at the
horizontal joints as shown in Figure 8b. Then the boards were screwed to the studs at 200 mm
spacing with an edge distance of 50 mm from the horizontal joints. Once the board was fixed,
all the joints were sealed with the fire rated sealant to ensure bonding between the joints as
shown in Figure 8c, which was required to avoid joint failure during the fire test by
preventing hot gases passing through the joint.
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600 mm wide MgO board
Noggings
Track
Studs
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(a) Sealant between board
and steel (b) Gap between the boards (c) Joint filled with sealant
Figure 8. Test 1 joint details
Stage-2 consisted of fixing thermocouples to the wall as shown in Figure 7. At first,
thermocouples were fixed to the board and studs as shown in Figure 9 at various locations to
measure transient time-temperature variation during the fire test. All the horizontal joints in
the test specimen were supported by noggings at 600 mm spacing to avoid joint failure during
fire test. The second layer of MgO board was fixed to the steel frame on the other side after
applying a uniform layer of fire rated sealant using the methods used for the first layer of
MgO board.
(a) On the board (b) On the stud
Figure 9. Thermocouples fixed to the board and studs
3.2.2 Test 2
Test 2 LSF wall was made of 10 mm thick Type-2 MgO board without noggings and
cavity insulation material. Figure 10 shows the steel frame lined with MgO board on one
side. Type-2 MgO board had recessed edges that allowed the board joints to be constructed
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MgO Board
Stud
Sealant
50 mm
5 mm gap Sealant
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along the studs without noggings, thus no noggings were used in this steel frame. The boards
were fixed with their joints over the studs using non-corrosive screws at 200 mm spacing as
shown in Figure 11a. The joints were filled with a layer of gypsum based joint plaster and a
fibre mesh was used to reinforce the joint as shown in Figure 11b. Finally another layer of
joint plaster was applied on top of the fibre mesh to complete the joint.
Figure 10. Test 2 wall configuration with MgO board lining on one side
(a) Screws at 200 mm c/c (b) Joint plaster and fibre mesh
Figure 11. Test 2 joint details
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MgO board
Studs
200 mm
Fibre mesh
Joint plaster
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3.2.3 Test 3
Test 3 wall configuration was similar to Test 2 except the inclusion of cavity insulation
and additional joint protection using a high temperature mortar. This high temperature mortar
is a ready to mix, cement based and rapid setting material that can withstand temperatures up
to 1200 ºC. In addition, screw fastening was carried out after predrilling the board at screw
locations to ensure uncracked board edges. As shown in Figure 12 the board joints were filled
with layers of a high temperature cement mortar that can withstand a temperature of 1000 ºC
and fibre mesh laid between the cement mortar layers to reinforce the joints. The cement
mortar was applied to the board joints after wetting the surface with water to ensure good
bonding between the board and the mortar.
(a) First mortar layer application
after wetting the surface
(b) Second mortar layer application
after placing a fibre mesh
Figure 12. Test 3 joint details
The test wall was insulated with 75 mm thick glass fibre cavity insulation with a density
of 11 kg/m3, which is a common component in LSF wall systems to achieve enhanced
thermal comfort (Figure 13). Test 3 will provide experimental results on non-load bearing
cavity insulated LSF walls lined with MgO board in comparison with a non-cavity insulated
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Joint
First mortar
layer Fibre
mesh
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configuration in Test 2 as well as provide some test results on the fire performance of the
high temperature joint mortar with improved joints.
Figure 13. Test 3 wall configuration with glass fibre cavity insulation
3.3 Test Set-Up and Instrumentation
The fire tests were carried out using a 3 m × 3 m gas furnace with a depth of 300 mm. A
hydraulic jack was used under the studs to support the self-weight of the LSF wall specimen.
The LSF wall specimen was placed in front of the furnace within the loading frame as shown
in Figure 14. The temperatures on the studs and the board surfaces were measured using
Type-K cable thermocouples, whose locations are shown in Figures 15 and 16. The
thermocouples attached to the fire side flange of the studs were named as hot flange (HF)
thermocouples and the unexposed side thermocouples attached to the flange of the studs were
named as cold flange (CF) thermocouples. In addition to the temperature measurements,
linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs) were used to monitor the lateral and vertical
displacements of the wall due to thermal bowing and expansion effects. Finally, the gap
between the furnace and the LSF wall specimen was completely sealed with insulation
materials to prevent heat escaping around the edges of the specimen to the environment,
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Cavity
insulation
Track
Studs
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which may affect the furnace performance. The furnace was programmed to follow the
standard fire time-temperature curve. The furnace pressure was not recorded during the fire
tests.
Figure 14. Test wall and instrumentation set-up (Test 2)
Figure 15. Thermocouple locations on the studs
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Cold flange (CF)
Hot flange (HF)
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Figure 16. Thermocouple locations on the MgO board surfaces
4 Test Observations and Time-Temperature Profiles
4.1 Test 1
After about 10 minutes of fire exposure, water vapour was observed around the specimen.
This is due to the dehydration processes in the MgO board. At about 25 minutes, small cracks
started to appear on the ambient side of the wall, which opened up rapidly within another 5
minutes. During this period, loud cracking sound was heard from the fire side. With the
ambient side cracks becoming larger in size, the test was stopped by turning off the furnace
and then it was pushed back after 32 minutes of fire exposure. There was no smoke detected
during the test due to non-flammable nature of Type-1 MgO board. The ambient side board
exhibited large cracks as shown in Figure 17 that can be attributed to the higher mass loss and
shrinkage in Type-1 MgO board. However, the horizontal joints were still undamaged during
the fire test because of the flexible fire sealant used between the joints to accommodate any
movements in the joint due to thermal expansion. Post-fire observations on the fire side
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2250 mm
1500 mm
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showed delamination, bowing and cracking of the MgO board, which was directly exposed to
fire (Figure 18). The board deformation pattern aligned with the steel frame layout using the
studs and noggings, which is in the form of 600 mm × 600 mm square shapes (see Figure 7).
This suggests that the fixings also contributed to the failure of the board by providing
additional restraints. Partial fall off of the fire exposed MgO board was also observed.
Figure 17. Cracks on the ambient side after the test (Test 1)
Figure 18. Delamination, deformation and cracking on the fire side (Test 1)
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Horizontal
joints
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The failure of load bearing LSF wall systems depends on the critical HF temperatures as
discussed by Gunalan and Mahendran [12]. These HF temperatures can be obtained from
either load bearing or non-load bearing wall fire tests and then related to load acting on the
studs using load ratio. The load ratio is defined as the ratio between the applied load on the
stud and the ambient temperature ultimate capacity. The proposed load ratios (LR) and the
respective limiting HF temperatures based on [12] are; 1) LR=0.2: 600 ºC, 2) LR=0.4: 500
ºC, 3) LR=0.6: 300 ºC and 4) LR=0.7: 200 ºC. Based on these suggested LR values and
critical HF temperatures, the FRL of a load bearing LSF wall system can be obtained from
the time-temperature profiles obtained from non-load bearing test. Figures 19 and 20 show
the HF and CF temperature profiles measured during the fire tests. At 30 minutes, the stud
temperatures were 400 ºC and 275 ºC on the hot flange (HF) and cold flange (CF),
respectively. Hence, the respective LR for the HF temperature of 400 ºC measured during this
test is 0.5, which is representative of a FRL of 30/–/–.
The maximum deviation between the recorded fire curve vs the standard time-
temperature curve is about 70 ºC during the experiment, which is well within the AS 1530.4
recommended deviation of +100 ºC. The measured temperature on the ambient side was
about 95 ºC, which is well below the standard insulation failure criterion of 160 ºC on the
unexposed surface. However, the failure was initiated under the integrity failure criterion due
to cracking of the board that allowed hot gases to pass through the wall. This ignited a cotton
pad held closer to the crack within about 30 seconds. The FRL of this LSF wall system will
be –/30/– under integrity failure criterion.
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
0
200
400
600
800
1000
Standard Fire Curve Test Fire Curve
HF CF
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 19. Measured average stud time-temperature profiles in Test 1
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
0
200
400
600
800
1000
Standard Fire Curve
Test Fire Curve
Fire Side Cavity
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 20. Measured average MgO board time-temperature profiles in Test 1
4.2 Test 2
Test 2 LSF wall was lined with Type-2 MgO Board with joints being aligned vertically
along the studs without noggings. When the test wall was exposed to standard fire on one
side, water vapour was observed around the test specimen after 3 minutes of fire exposure.
The water evaporation continued for about another 10 minutes, which lead to larger quantity
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of water pouring from the test wall cavity on to the testing floor (Figure 21). This is due to
the condensation of evaporated water from the test wall, which is from the chemically bound
water in the board.
Figure 21. Water dripping from the test wall (Test 2)
At about 25 minutes of fire exposure, discolouration of one of the vertical joints along the
studs on the ambient surface was observed. This discolouration continued for another 5
minutes and then that joint started to become wider, while the other joints on the ambient
surface also started to discolour. This was followed by further widening of that joint due to
bowing and shrinkage of the ambient side board, which eventually caused cracking of board
at the vertical joint screw locations (Figure 22). When the vertical joint cracks became quite
large, they allowed hot gases to pass through the joint that ignited a cotton pad held closer to
the crack for about 30 seconds. Then the furnace was switched off at about 35 minutes of fire
exposure. Based on the observations, the test wall failed under integrity failure criterion. The
test wall also bent towards the fire side during the fire test. Post-fire observations showed
further cracking along the vertical joints, board bowing and cracking on the fire side as
shown in Figure 23. The board bowing pattern (Figure 23) aligned well with the stud
arrangements and screw fastener locations for Test 2 shown in Figure 10, which is different
to the bowing pattern observed in Test 1 (see Figure 18), where the steel frame had horizontal
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dripping
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noggings (see Figure 7). In comparison to Test 1, there were no board cracks observed in Test
2 during the fire tests. In Test 1 with noggings and more flexible horizontal joints, board
cracks dominated the failure.
(a) Test wall with cracked vertical joint (b) Region-A
Figure 22. Vertical joint cracked on the ambient side (Test 2)
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Figure 23. Bowing and opening of the fire side board joint after the test (Test 2)
The reason for the Test 2 wall failure under the integrity failure criterion was due to the
opening up of the joint. This was caused by the shrinkage and bowing actions of the board
during the fire test, which eventually caused the board edges to crack at the screw locations.
The boards were screwed to the studs at the joints with an edge distance of 5 – 10 mm due to
the limitations in the stud flange width, which was about 35 mm. In addition, the board does
not have the fibre mesh on one side at the edges that was removed to reinforce the joint
compound as shown in Figure 24. Therefore, limited edge distance for screwing and the
removal of the fibre mesh along the recessed edges might have caused the joints to fail.
Another cause for the joint failure might be attributed to the use of conventional joint plaster
and a fibre mesh that also failed during the fire test. However, the major cause of wall failure
is excessive bowing and shrinkage of the board, which eventually triggered the joint cracks.
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board joint
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Figure 24. Recessed board edge without fibre mesh
The time-temperature profiles measured during Test 2 are shown in Figures 25 and 26.
The average stud temperatures at about 30 minutes were 400 ºC and 240 ºC measured on the
HF and CF, respectively. As discussed for Test 1, when this test is considered as a load
bearing wall, the respective LR for the HF temperature of 400 ºC measured during this Test 2
is 0.5, which is representative of a FRL of 30/–/–. The average temperature of the ambient
side surface was still around 100 ºC, which is well below the insulation failure criteria limit
of 160 ºC, so that the insulation failure criterion was not reached during this test. The test
wall failure was due to the cracking of the joints, which allowed hot gases to pass through the
wall. Therefore, when this test wall considered as a non-load bearing wall, the failure can be
classified under integrity failure criterion with a FRL of –/30/–.
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
0
200
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600
800
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Standard Fire Curve Test Fire Curve
HF CF
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 25. Measured average stud time-temperature profiles in Test 2
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
0
200
400
600
800
1000
Standard Fire Curve
Test Fire Curve
Fire Side Cavity
Ambient Side Cavity
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 26. Measured average MgO board time-temperature profiles in Test 2
4.3 Test 3
Test 3 wall had 10 mm Type-2 MgO board lining and glass fibre cavity insulation. The
joints were reinforced with high temperature mortar to enhance the joint performance. After 3
minutes of fire exposure, water vapour was observed and at about 10 minutes water started to
pour down the wall, which continued for about another 15 minutes. This is due to the
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dehydration of the chemically bound water in the MgO board. At about 35 minutes one of the
ambient side vertical joints started to crack and then continued to increase in size until about
40 minutes, where the joint opening was significant as shown in Figure 27. This allowed hot
gases to pass through the wall, which ignited a cotton pad held closer to the joint within about
30 seconds. Therefore the wall failed at about 40 minutes under integrity failure criterion.
Although the test wall failed at 40 minutes, the test was continued for another 10 minutes to
monitor the behaviour of the boards. During this period the board started to bow further and
the joint materials fell off due to wide open vertical joints as shown in Figure 27. The post-
fire observation of the fire exposed side showed bowing and partial fall off of MgO board,
whereas the glass fibre insulation has completely melted and lost its integrity due to excessive
deformation as shown in Figure 28. The melting temperature of the glass fibre insulation was
about 700 ºC.
(a) Ambient side of the wall
Figure 27. Ambient side of the test wall after the test (Test 3)
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B
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(b) Region A (c) Region B (d) Region C
Figure 27. Ambient side of the test wall after the test (Test 3)
Figure 28. Bowing and partial board fall off on the fire side after the test (Test 3)
Figures 29 and 30 show the average stud and board time-temperature profiles,
respectively. The stud temperatures are 475 ºC and 210 ºC on the HF and CF at about 30
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Melted glass
fibre insulation
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minutes as shown in Figure 29. Cavity insulation blocks the heat passage through the cavity,
thus the HF gets heated higher than the CF. This will eventually cause early failure of the
studs at lower load ratios when this wall is considered as a load bearing wall. The HF
temperature of 475 ºC can be related to a load ratio of 0.4 with a FRL of 30/–/– at this load
ratio. When the board temperatures are considered, the ambient surface temperature was
about 90 ºC at the end of 40 minutes of fire exposure, which is well below the insulation
failure criterion temperature of 160 ºC. However, the joints on the ambient surface cracked
and become wide open, allowing the hot gases to pass through the wall. Thus the failure of
the wall can be classified under integrity failure with a FRL of –/30/–.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
0
200
400
600
800
1000
Standard Fire Curve Test Fire Curve
HF CF
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 29. Measured average stud time-temperature profiles in Test 3
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
0
200
400
600
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1000
Standard Fire Curve Test Fire Curve
Fire Side Cavity Ambient Side Cavity
Ambient
Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 30. Measured average board time-temperature profiles in Test 3
4.4 Comparison of Average Board Temperatures
The fire side cavity (FireCavity) and the ambient side (Ambient) board temperature
profiles of all three fire tests are shown in Figure 31. The ambient side temperature values
follow a similar pattern during the fire test, and this temperature at failure of each test was
measured to be about 100 ºC, which is well below the failure temperature under insulation
failure criterion as discussed earlier. The fire side cavity temperature variations for Test 1 and
2 almost match each other. However, the fire side cavity temperature of Test 3 is much higher
than in other two tests, with a temperature difference of about 240 ºC at 30 minutes. This is
due to the presence of cavity insulation in Test 3, which blocks heat transfer through the wall
cavity, thus the temperature on the fire side cavity is rapidly increased. This effect will affect
the fire performance of the LSF wall system by increasing the stud HF temperature to cause
early failure in a load bearing wall configuration. Therefore, cavity insulation will affect the
fire performance of load bearing LSF walls. However, it is included often to achieve greater
thermal comfort during service.
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
0
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Standard Fire Curve Test-1-Fire Cavity
Test-2-Fire Cavity Test-3-Fire Cavity
Test-1-Ambient Test-2-Ambient
Test-3-Ambient Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 31. Average fire side cavity and ambient side board temperature profiles
4.5 Comparison of Average Stud Temperatures
Figure 32 shows the HF and CF time-temperature profiles from the three full-scale fire
tests. Test 3 shows the highest HF and the lowest CF temperatures compared to other two
tests. This is due to the presence of cavity insulation, which blocks the heat through the test
wall as discussed earlier. At about 30 minutes of fire exposure the differences between HF
and CF temperatures are 105 ºC, 153 ºC and 259 ºC in Tests 1 to 3, respectively. When this
difference is higher, the stud will fail earlier due to the reduced mechanical properties of the
HF compared to CF, which will eventually cause additional deflection and moment in the
studs when subjected to an axial compressive load. Therefore, cavity insulation affects the
fire performance of axially loaded fire rated load bearing LSF wall configurations. These
observations were also reported by Gunalan et al. [2] based on their experimental studies of
LSF walls lined with gypsum plasterboard.
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
0
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600
800
1000
Standard Fire Curve Test-1-HF Test-2-HF
Test-3-HF Test-1-CF Test-2-CF
Test-3-CF Time (minutes)
Temperature (oC)
Figure 32. Average stud HF and CF temperature profiles
4.6 Comparison of lateral displacements
Another important observation during the fire tests was the lateral displacement of the
wall towards the furnace. Although the test wall studs were not subjected to any loads, the
test wall deflection was observed due to the thermal expansion of the LSF wall components.
The measured lateral displacements at the mid-height of all three test walls are shown in
Figure 33. The lateral displacement was the highest in Test 3 with cavity insulation compared
to other two tests without cavity insulation. Test 3 shows a lateral deflection of 40 mm
towards the furnace at about 30 minutes of fire exposure compared to 25 mm in other two
tests. This is mainly due to the larger thermal gradient and the reduced steel mechanical
properties caused by the heat being blocked by cavity insulation.
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0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
0
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60
Test-1 Test-2 Test-3
Time (minutes)
Lateral Displacement (mm)
Figure 33. Average lateral displacements measured during fire test
4.7 Test on evaporated water
After the fire test, a pH was conducted on the evaporated water from the MgO board that
was accumulated in the exhaust duct system. The pH indicator revealed that the evaporated
water was acidic with a pH level between 4 and 5. Based on the MgO board constituents the
chemical formulae of the MgO board can be given as Mg(OH)2.MgCl2.H2O. When heated,
the chemicals are released in the form of Mg(OH)2, MgO, HCl and H2O. Therefore, it can be
concluded that the acidity of the evaporated water is due to the presence of HCl released
when the board is exposed to fire.
5 Findings
The main findings of the experimental study reported in this paper are as follows.
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The MgO board lined LSF wall configurations considered in this study yielded a FRL
of 30/30/30, considering the test observation that insulation failure criteria was not
reached.
All three fire tests failed under integrity failure criterion, where Test 1 with Type-1
MgO board failed due to board cracking and Tests 2 and 3 with Type-2 boards
exhibited board joint cracking that allowed hot gases to pass through the wall.
Although Test 3 joints were reinforced with high temperature mortar, the joint
cracking could not be avoided. However, until the board bent and the cracks opened
up, the joints were able to reduce the heat transfer to the stud considerably in
comparison to the heat transfer through the board. The cracks occurred mainly due to
the excessive shrinkage of the board caused by dehydration reactions (mass loss) and
bowing of the board. Reducing the amount of chemically bound water in the MgO
board will enhance its fire performance. Another way of mitigating the board bending
deformation will be to reduce the stud spacing (currently 600 mm c/c). Closely spaced
studs will enhance the fire performance by reducing the bending action of the board,
thus eliminating joint cracks. However, this will increase the cost of the wall panels.
This observation implies that FRL of MgO board lined walls will depend very much
on stud spacing.
Removal of fibre mesh on the edges to prepare the recessed board edges affects the
strength of the board when exposed to fire. Therefore, alternative manufacturing
processes is needed to retain the fibre mesh on the board edges.
The average edge distances of the screws are about 5 10 mm due to the limited
flange width of about 35 mm in Tests 2 and 3. This is not sufficient to withstand
higher movement in the joints due to the bowing of MgO board. Therefore, increased
flange width or back to back stud arrangements are recommended to achieve higher
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joint strength in fire exposures, which will eventually increase the cost of the wall
system.
Pre-drilling is recommended for screw fastening the board to the stud. This will
prevent cracking of the board when the screws sink to position.
Excessive board cracking was observed in Test 1 with noggings compared to Tests 2
and 3 without noggings, which might have restricted thermal expansion of the board.
Therefore, it is recommended to avoid noggings in LSF wall steel frame, where larger
deformation of the wall board lining is expected when exposed to fire.
Type-2 MgO boards used in Tests 2 and 3 showed no cracks on the board, whereas in
Test 1 board cracking was observed due to the noggings restraining the bowing action
of board. Another reason is higher mass loss in Type-1 MgO board compared to
Type-2 MgO board. Manufacturers recommend the use of fire rated sealant between
the board and studs as well as to fill the joints. However, fire tests showed that such
sealants accommodate movements only to a certain extent. When there is excessive
movement of the joint due to board bowing action and shrinkage, these sealants may
not provide any further protection. Tests demonstrated clearly the importance of joint
detailing on the FRL of LSF wall systems, but most importantly the need to reduce
bending/bowing action and cracking of MgO board caused by significant mass loss
during their dehydration reactions.
Post-fire pH test of the evaporated water from the board during the fire test revealed a
pH level of 4 – 5, i.e. acidic. This is due to the presence of MgCl2 in the MgO board
composition, which releases HCl during fire exposure. Therefore, MgO board lining
is not recommended for structures exposed to severe weather conditions.
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6 Conclusions
This paper has presented the details of thermal property tests and full-scale fire tests of
MgO boards and MgO board lined LSF walls systems with different configurations. Thermal
property tests conducted on two types of MgO boards have shown that the MgO board had
very high mass loss at elevated temperatures, which is about 50% and 40% loss of initial
mass at elevated temperatures compared to 15% mass loss in a commonly used wall lining
material such as gypsum plasterboard. This higher mass loss will affect the fire performance
of the MgO board lined LSF wall system and will cause cracking of MgO board.
These findings were supported by conducting three full-scale standard fire tests on MgO
board lined LSF wall systems. These fire tests exhibited bending and cracking of MgO board.
All three tests failed in integrity failure criterion, in which Test 1 with Type-1 MgO board
failed due to cracking of board and Tests 2 and 3 with Type-2 MgO board failed due to joint
opening and cracking. The board cracking was due to the higher mass loss as observed during
the thermal property tests while joint failure was caused by bowing and shrinkage of the
board. Therefore, the MgO board lined LSF system will have an FRL of 30/30/30, in which
the wall may fail predominantly under integrity failure criterion.
Fire test observations and results reported in this paper are only applicable to the two
types of MgO boards and the wall configurations used in the tests. This research has
demonstrated that the FRL of MgO board lined LSF wall system depends on the type of MgO
board used in relation to its mass loss characteristics, joint detailing and stud spacing.
Appropriately designed and manufactured MgO board with suitable joint details and stud
spacing have the potential to provide higher FRLs than those reported in this paper.
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Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for
providing the necessary research facilities, and Australian Research Council (ARC) and QUT
for providing the financial support to conduct this research project.
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... Standards and guidelines on structural fire design of steel-based structures such as Eurocode 3 [22] and Australian and New Zealand Standard [23]; define three basic criteria; 1) structural 2) integrity and 3) insulation. Structural failure occurs when the component fails to carry the design load when subjected to fire; Integrity failure is defined as the failure to keep transfer of hot gases and flames from fireside to the unexposed side through the structure; The insulation failure is when the temperature on the unexposed surface of the structure exceeds 140 • C on average or 180 • C at any point [16]. The convention of denoting the FRL is Time to (Structural Failure)/(Integrity Failure)/(Insulation Failure). ...
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Robust and pre-fabrication construction techniques are the cutting edge practice in the building industry. Cold-frame, warm-frame and hybrid-frame are three common Light-gauge Steel Frame (LSF) wall constructions applied for better energy performance. Still, the applications of the aforementioned wall configurations are restricted due to limited fire safety studies. This paper presents the fire performance investigations and results of cold-frame, warm-frame, and hybrid frame LSF walls together with three novel configurations maintaining the same material quantities. Successfully validated 3D heat transfer finite element models were extended to six wall configurations. Time variant temperature profiles from Finite Element Analyses were evaluated against the established Load Ratio (LR)-Hot-Flange (HF) temperature curve to determine the structural fire resistance. Modified warm-frame construction showed the best performance where the Fire Resistance Level (FRL) is approximately twice that of conventional LSF wall configurations. Hence, the novel LSF wall configurations obtained by shifting the insulation material toward the fireside of the wall make efficient fire-resistant wall solutions and the new designs are proposed to be incorporated in modular constructions for enhanced fire performance. Keywords: Fire Performance, Cold-Frame, Warm-Frame, Hybrid-Frame, LSF Wall Configurations, Modular Walls, Standard Fire, FRL
... The typical LSF wall designs with LCS and channel section studs shown in Figure 1, have been widely addressed by the recent research studies against their structural and fire performance. For instance, studies of LSF wall systems carried out with respect to stud geometry [2][3][4], cavity insulation type [5][6][7], the location of insulation material [8], sheathing option [9][10][11] and the amount of integrated cavity insulation [12] are few recent research studies that have addressed the structural and fire performance research scopes. Studies on overall structural-fire failure of cold-formed steel buildings [13] and modular floor panels [14] have even influenced the research understanding to the scope. ...
Article
Modular Building Systems (MBS) are still in the phase of developing its popularity in the industry, with emerging novel designs. Initially, MBS walls and floors had been highly influenced by the Light-gauge Steel Frame (LSF) designs made of Cold-Formed (CF) steel studs, either as loadbearing or non-loadbearing types which have been extensively researched all over the world. However, recently the MBS practice in the industry tends to incorporate Square Hollow Section (SHS) steel columns for their improved structural performance and convenience at the manufacturing stage despite of the limited research knowledge in terms of the Fire Resistance Level (FRL). Moreover, catastrophic failures and fatal accidents are common with steel-based structures in case of a fire. Hence, the fire performance of loadbearing modular walls with SHS columns have been identified as a critical research gap. Firstly, Finite Element Models (FEM) were developed for the original modular wall, a Light-weight Timber Frame (LTF) wall and some LSF walls. The FEM analyses results very well matched with the full-scale experimental results so that the FEM techniques were confidently used to study the effect of variables chosen based on material availability options, cost reduction and construction practice. Structural and Insulation FRLs have been evaluated for the chosen parametric walls, where the produced graphs of structural and insulation FRLs can be referred to determine the adequate thickness of column sheathing and the Insulation Ratio (IR) respectively. The choice of non-loadbearing stud type can be evaluated against other limitations related to energy, cost and construction practice.
... The intention to control the temperature rise in the light gauge steel channels is that the strength properties deteriorate with temperature in light gauge steel; thus, reduce the load-carrying capacity. Fire performance of LSF wall and floor panels were investigated with respect to channel section type such as lipped channel, hollow flange and web stiffened channels [7][8][9], fire resistance board type including gypsum plasterboard, calcium silicate boards, and magnesium oxide boards [10][11][12][13][14][15][16], and type of insulation materials such as rock wool, glass fibre, cellulose fibre. Moreover, the effect of changing the location of the insulation materials has also been investigated [17]. ...
Article
The Modular Building System (MBS) is increasingly popular and promoted due to the inherent advantages over conventional construction. Fire performance of a building has become a crucial design consideration because of the recent detrimental fire accidents. However, for modular buildings, there has been less previous evidence of research on the fire performance. Investigations become necessary since double skin wall and floor modular panel systems are involved in MBS in contrast to conventional buildings. Therefore, this work investigates the fire performance of Light-gauge Steel Framed (LSF) modular wall panels with different configurations through numerical analyses. Heat transfer numerical models were developed and validated against the full-scale fire test results comparing the time–temperature response. The validated numerical models were subsequently extended to analyse the fire performance of conventional and modular LSF wall panels. This includes 16 modular wall configurations with single and double fire resistance plasterboard linings and three different insulations, namely rock wool, glass fibre and mineral wool. The structural fire resistance time was determined using the established Load Ratio (LR) vs critical Hot-Flange (HF) temperature correlation. The results demonstrated that there is no noticeable difference in the structural fire resistance time between the modular and the corresponding mapped conventional LSF wall configurations. However, modular wall panels experience enhanced insulation fire resistance up to 170% for single-lined plasterboards and up to 80% for double-lined plasterboard configurations. The analysis also yields that there is no significant influence of the choice of insulation material between rock-wool, glass-fibre and mineral-wool on structural fire resistance.
... MgO boards are usually produced by combining MOC or MOS cement with lightweight fillers (typically wood fibres and perlite) and reinforcing glass fibre mesh [9]. They have considerable benefits compared with other board types including their compatibility with wood and other lightweight filler materials [10], providing low density boards which makes handling easier and reduces building loads [11]. ...
Article
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Evolving construction methods and an increased demand for materials with enhanced fire resistance have created a demand for novel materials within the construction industry. In recent years, MgO boards have become more widely used as a solution to the needs of modern construction. This paper explores the behaviour of magnesium oxide boards during exposure to various temperatures and high levels of moisture. More than 1000 samples were prepared for analysis and the laboratory test durations extended beyond 2 years. Findings indicate that magnesium chloride hydroxide hydrate phases within well proportioned magnesium oxide boards remained stable after exposure to various conditions. Additionally, the mechanical properties were relatively unaffected by exposure to high levels of moisture for extended durations. Findings also indicate that magnesium oxide boards based on magnesium oxysulphate cement are not susceptible to the 'crying' phenomenon. By correlating laboratory performance of magnesium oxide boards with weather data it was possible to ascertain that well proportioned boards would remain stable for at least 33 years in-service in the average UK location.
... It has a wide range of applications due to its high temperature resistance, flame retardant, and good mechanical properties. 4,5 MgO/WF use magnesium oxide, wood chips, and silicon dioxide as the main materials, its hardness is relatively high. With the addition of MgO, the mechanical properties were improved. ...
Article
Full-text available
Magnesium oxide-reinforced wood fiber composites (MgO/WF) are a new type of multifunctional material, which can be used in different occasions, such as shopping malls, hotels, and residential buildings. Referring to the relevant literature, there is no research on the milling performance of MgO/WF. In order to better understand the relevant knowledge of the processability of MgO/WF, three cutters with different helix angles were used in this experiment to carry out the cutting of MgO/WF, and the variation trend of its cutting force, tool wear, and surface roughness was measured. The results are as follows: First, under the same cutting parameters, the resultant force decreases with the increase of helix angle. Second, with the increase of helix angle, the tool wear was slightly improved. Third, the surface roughness (Ra) showed an increasing trend with the decrease of helix angle. In the end, when milling MgO/WF, better machined surface quality and less tool wear can be obtained by selecting the tool with larger helix angle.
... They are used in a variety of internal and external applications including sheathing, wall/ceiling linings, render carrier systems and prefabricated wall systems [1][2][3]. Magnesium oxychloride boards are typically produced from magnesium oxychloride cement combined with filler materials such as wood and perlite [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Magnesium oxide type building boards are a relatively new alternative to traditional sheeting materials such as plywood, gypsum plasterboard and fibre-cement board. They have many advantages; strength, lightweight, ease of use and excellent fire resistance, which has become increasingly important as demanded by industry and required by more stringent legislation. Recently cases of durability issues associated with magnesium oxychloride boards in Denmark have emerged, however the precise nature of the problem was not established. These issues have been related to magnesium oxychloride boards which were exposed to high levels of moisture. In this paper the mechanism of the failures observed in Denmark has been investigated. The difference in quality between various magnesium oxychloride boards available in the market was also studied. It was found that there are significant differences, both physically and chemically, between magnesium oxychloride boards supplied from different manufacturers. Crucially, the performance of each board when exposed to high levels of relative humidity was vastly different. Some of the boards investigated displayed behaviour similar to that observed in Denmark, whilst other boards exhibited substantial resistance to humid environments and had not deteriorated after 60 weeks of exposure.
Article
Prefabricated buildings recently became more prominent providing significant benefits including contribution to emission reductions at scale and the manufacturing of building components to high accuracy. However, in China, the proportion of prefabrication is lower than that in many developed countries. The prefabricated wall is one of the most important precast elements and its thermal performance has significant impacts on buildings' energy consumption and environmental performance. This work reviews the thermal performance of prefabricated walls encompassing survey of two common structures, precast concrete sandwich walls and lightweight steel-framed walls. The applicability and limitations of methods frequently used to determine the thermal resistances of these two walls are presented. This article also shows a literature review on the implications of prefabricated buildings to China's emission reductions. Compared to conventional buildings, the contribution of prefabricated buildings on China's emission reduction has been recognized. The potentials on building energy efficient and waste minimisation were also acknowledged. It is concluded that the prefabrication has been generally considered to be a more sustainable method in building sector. The energy-saving potential of prefabrication was demonstrated based on life cycle analysis and thermal performance evaluation. It was found the thermal performance of buildings has multiplied by adopting prefabricated façade elements for building retrofitting. More studies related to thermal performance of prefabricated walls with different structures shall be covered in future research. It is also suggested to develop a more representative result of energy performance by adopting prefabrication, with all dimensions of prefabricated buildings' feature considered.
Article
Fire resistant and load bearing Light gauge Steel Frame (LSF) wall systems are generally made of cold-formed steel stud sections lined with gypsum plasterboards. Structural stability of these steel frames at elevated temperatures is important for the load bearing LSF walls for survival during fire events. The studs in these frames are usually Lipped Channel Section (LCS) studs. However, there are other more structurally efficient stud sections such as the hollow flange section studs, which can be effectively used in LSF walls. However, lack of fire research on these sections has inhibited their usage in LSF walls. This paper proposes the use of hollow flange channel (HFC) section studs in LSF walls with a view to increase their fire resistant ratings (FRR). In this study, five full scale fire tests of LSF walls made of welded hollow flange channel section studs were conducted under standard fire conditions. Three different wall configurations and three load ratios were considered in these tests. This paper presents the details of fire tests and their results including the time-temperature profiles of plasterboard and steel stud surfaces, lateral displacement and axial deformation profiles, failure modes and failure temperatures. It also presents the effects of using different wall configurations and load ratios on the FRR of LSF walls. Comparison of the fire performance of LSF walls made of welded HFC section studs with those made of conventional LCS studs demonstrated the superior fire performance through the use of welded HFC section studs.
Article
Light Gauge Steel Framing (LSF) walls made of cold-formed and thin-walled steel lipped channel studs with plasterboard linings on both sides are commonly used in commercial, industrial and residential buildings. However, there is limited data about their structural and thermal performance under fire conditions while past research showed contradicting results about the benefits of using cavity insulation. A new composite wall panel was recently proposed to improve the fire resistance rating of LSF walls, where an insulation layer was used externally between the plasterboards on both sides of the wall frame instead of using it in the cavity. In this research 11 full scale tests were conducted on conventional load bearing steel stud walls with and without cavity insulation, and the new composite panel system to study their thermal and structural performance under standard fire conditions. These tests showed that the use of cavity insulation led to inferior fire performance of walls, and provided supporting research data. They demonstrated that the use of insulation externally in a composite panel enhanced the thermal and structural performance of LSF walls and increased their fire resistance rating. This paper presents the details of the LSF wall tests and the thermal and structural performance data and fire resistance rating of load-bearing wall assemblies lined with varying plasterboard-insulation configurations under two different load ratios. Fire test results including the time–temperature and deflection profiles are presented along with the failure times and modes.
Article
In this paper, the authors present experimental observations and results of full scale standard fire tests as well as thermo-mechanical sequentially coupled finite element simulations on partition walls. A procedure for carrying out numerical simulation of the coupled-thermo-mechanical behaviour is proposed. The numerical models presented for predicting behaviour during fires were calibrated and verified by full scale fire testing. The test wall was constructed using steel C-section studs with gypsum boards fixed on both sides. The wall cavity was filled with Rockwool insulation. The partition wall was tested during exposure to the standard fire test. The thermo-mechanical behaviour of the wall was found to be heavily coupled and influenced by the physical and chemical changes in all constituents of the wall during exposure to fire. The sequentially coupled mechanical response simulation included geometric and material non-linearity as a function of temperature. In spite of the complexity of the fire effects and the strongly coupled thermo- mechanical behaviour, the results of the computational model practically agree with the full scale experimental results. The numerical prediction of the maximum thermal bowing of the wall was found to be very similar to the maximum values measured during the fire test. This has practical implications for assessing the integrity such wall assemblies during exposure to elevated temperatures. The proposed procedure can be used by fire structural engineers and fire testing laboratories as a tool to assist technical assessment exercises. In addition, the proposed procedure can be used during the developmental and modification stages of building components to optimise performance during fire.
Article
Recent research at the Queensland University of Technology has investigated the structural and thermal behaviour of load bearing Light gauge Steel Frame (LSF) wall systems made of 1.15 mm G500 steel studs and varying plasterboard and insulation configurations (cavity and external insulation) using full scale fire tests. Suitable finite element models of LSF walls were then developed and validated by comparing with test results. In this study, the validated finite element models of LSF wall panels subject to standard fire conditions were used in a detailed parametric study to investigate the effects of important parameters such as steel grade and thickness, plasterboard screw spacing, plasterboard lateral restraint, insulation materials and load ratio on their performance under standard fire conditions. Suitable equations were proposed to predict the time–temperature profiles of LSF wall studs with eight different plasterboard-insulation configurations, and used in the finite element analyses. Finite element parametric studies produced extensive fire performance data for the LSF wall panels in the form of load ratio versus time and critical hot flange (failure) temperature curves for eight wall configurations. This data demonstrated the superior fire performance of externally insulated LSF wall panels made of different steel grades and thicknesses. It also led to the development of a set of equations to predict the important relationship between the load ratio and the critical hot flange temperature of LSF wall studs. Finally this paper proposes a simplified method to predict the fire resistance rating of LSF walls based on the two proposed set of equations for the load ratio–hot flange temperature and the time–temperature relationships.
Article
In order to improve the fire performance of load-bearing CFS wall systems for applications in mid-rise buildings, different panels and external insulation were examined in this paper. Experiments on six full-scale CFS wall specimens were performed in which the insulation material of aluminum silicate wool was located outside the CFS frame and sandwiched between two layers of boards on the fire side instead of being placed in the cavity. Five types of panels were involved in the experiments, including gypsum plasterboard, bolivian magnesium board, oriented standard boards (OSB), autoclaved lightweight concrete (ALC) boards and rock wool boards. The results showed a noticeable reduction of heat transfer to the surface of steel stud and a considerable improvement of fire performance of CFS walls by using aluminum silicate wool as external insulation. For CFS walls with aluminum silicate wool as external insulation on fire side, gypsum plasterboard as face layer and bolivian magnesium board as base layer on both sides, different load ratios may result in different failure modes, and the fire resistant time can be more than 150 min when the load ratio was less than 0.65. It was also demonstrated that the fire performance of CFS wall systems lined with bolivian magnesium board or ALC boards were superior to those lined with gypsum plasterboard and OSB. Therefore, bolivian magnesium board may be recommended to replace gypsum plasterboards as the base layer and ALC board may be used to replace OSB as exterior wall panels of CFS wall systems for applications in mid-rise buildings.
Article
Cold-formed steel (CFS) wall systems were increasingly used as primary load-bearing structural components in residential and industrial buildings. Previous studies were mainly to investigate the fire performance of non-load bearing CFS wall systems lined with gypsum plasterboards. In order to improve the fire performance of load-bearing CFS wall systems more efficiently, this paper presented a detailed experimental investigation on five full-scale CFS walls lined with double layers of three different fire resistant panels on both sides, including fire-resistant gypsum plasterboard, bolivian magnesium board and calcium silicate board. The results showed a noticeable disadvantage of the calcium silicate board due to explosive spalling at high temperatures, and this might cause severe safety issues in an actual fire situation. For CFS walls lined with gypsum plasterboard as the face layer and bolivian magnesium board as the base layer on both sides, different load ratios may result in different failure modes, and the fire resistance time would be more than 90 min when the load ratio was less than 0.65. It was also demonstrated that the fire performance of bolivian magnesium board was superior to that of the fire resistant gypsum plasterboard, therefore the former may be recommended to be used in CFS structures to replace gypsum plasterboards as the base layer.