Heat Transfer Analysis of Wall Panel Assemblies including Steel Channel Studs and Thermal Insulations

Cold-formed thin-walled steel sections are usually used as the load-bearing elements of wall panels in building construction. Such panels consist of channel steel sections with gypsum plasterboard layers attached to the flanges on the outside and interior insulation. we proposed a simple method to calculate temperature distributions in the steel section when the panel is exposed to fire from one side. This method calculates the average temperatures in the flanges of the steel section and assumes that the temperature in the web is linear. The proposed method is based on simple heat balance analysis for a few nodes representing the key components of the panel.

The thermal resistance of these nodes is obtained from the weighted average of thermal resistances in an effective width of the panel within which heat transfer in the panel width direction is assumed to occur.

The effective width of the panel for calculating the weighted average of thermal resistances can be taken as the steel section flange width plus 15% of the difference between 300 mm and the flange width of the steel section.

Validity of the proposed method has been checked by comparison of the temperature results between the proposed 1D modelling and 2D ABAQUS Finite Element modelling for an extensive set of parametric and sensitivity studies covering different steel section dimensions (width, depth, thickness and lips), different spacing between steel section, number of gypsum layers (1 or 2) and different interior insulation properties. Further assessment of accuracy of the proposed temperature calculation method has been provided by comparing compressive resistance of the steel studs between using temperature profiles produced by 2D ABAQUS Finite Element simulation and by using the proposed simplified method. Although the simplified method still requires a numerical procedure, it is extremely easy to implement to give designers of this structural system a much more efficient tool than using Finite Element simulations to calculate its fire resistance.

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