In recent decades, the use of structural high performance concrete (HPC) sandwich panels made with thin plates has increased as a response to modern environmental challenges. Fire endurance is a requirement in structural HPC elements, as for most structural elements. This paper presents experimental investigations on the fire behaviour of HPC thin plates (20 or 30 mm thick) being used in lightweight structural sandwich elements. Tests were undertaken using a standard testing furnace and a novel heat-transfer rate inducing system (H-TRIS), recently developed at the University of Edinburgh. The parametric assessment of the specimen performance included: thickness of the specimen, testing apparatus, and concrete mix (both with and without polypropylene fibres). The results verified the ability of H-TRIS to impose an equivalent thermal boundary condition to that imposed during a standard furnace test, with good repeatability, and at comparatively low economic and temporal costs. The results demonstrated that heat induced concrete spalling occurred 1 to 5 min earlier, and in a more destructive manner, for thinner specimens. An analysis is presented combining the thermal material degradation, vapour pore pressure, stress concentrations, and thermo-mechanical energy accumulation in the tested specimens. Unexpectedly, spalling at the unexposed surface was observed during two of the tests, suggesting a potentially unusual, unwanted failure mode of very thin-plates during fire. On this basis it is recommended to favour 30 mm thick plates in these applications, since they appear to resist spalling better than those with 20 mm thickness.
- Heat-induced concrete spalling
- High-performance concrete
- Thin plates