Analysis of cross-laminated timber charring rates upon exposure to nonstandard heating conditions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The use of engineered timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) is of increasing interest to architects and designers due to their desirable aesthetic, environmental, and structural properties. A key factor preventing widespread uptake of these materials is the uncertainty regarding their performance in fire. Currently, the predominant approach to quantifying the structural fire resistance of timber elements is the charring rate, which allows estimation of residual cross-section and hence strength. The charring rate is usually determined by testing timber specimens in a furnace by exposure to a 'standard fire'. However, it is recognized that the resulting charring rates are not necessarily appropriate for non-standard fire exposures or for characterizing the structural response in a real timber building. The effect of heating rate on the charring rate of CLT samples is investigated. The charring rate resulting from three heating scenarios (constant, simulated 'standard fire' and quadratically increasing) was calculated using interpolation of in-depth temperature measurements during exposure to heating from a mobile array of radiant panels, or in a Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA). Charring rate is shown to vary both spatially and temporally, and as a function of heating rate within the range 0.36-0.79 mm/min. The charring rate for tests carried out under simulated 'standard fire' exposures were shown to agree with the available literature, thus partially verifying the new testing approach; however under other heating scenarios the Eurocode charring rate guidance was found to be unconservative for some of the heat flux exposures in this study. A novel charring rate model is presented based on the experimental results. The potential implications of this study for structural fire resistance analysis and design of timber structures are discussed. The analysis demonstrates that heating rate, sample size and orientation, and test setup have significant effects on charring rate and the overall pyrolysis, and thus need to be further evaluated to further facilitate the use of structural timber in design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFire and Materials 2015 - 14th International Conference and Exhibition, Proceedings
PublisherInterscience Communications Ltd
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780000000002
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event14th International Conference and Exhibition on Fire and Materials 2015 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 2 Feb 20154 Feb 2015


Conference14th International Conference and Exhibition on Fire and Materials 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


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