Cutter, Philip Anthony
Predictive Methods for the Fire Resistance of Single Skin and Sandwich Composite
University of Southampton, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment,
Polymer composite materials are becoming increasingly popular in many engineering
structures in the civil, aerospace, marine and automotive industries. The increased
strength and stiffness to weight ratios which are possible with certain types of
composites make them particularly attractive to many high performance applications
such as military aircraft, offshore lifeboats and formula one racing cars.
One aspect of composite materials which is preventing more widespread use is the
perceived poor performance in fire. The perception is due to the fact that organic
compounds used in polymer composites are combustible. The loss of the Norwegian
Navy’s composite mine hunter vessel Orkla in 2002 to a fire did much to prevent
further widespread use of such materials.
The work presented here describes the research that has been conducted into assessing
and predicting the performance of single skin and sandwich composite materials
subjected to fire and mechanical load. The materials that were investigated were
representative of the materials used in the construction of Royal National Lifeboat
Institution (RNLI) lifeboats.
A new method has been developed to assess the response both thermally and
mechanically of single skin and sandwich panels subjected to combined fire and
mechanical load. This has been done by the construction of a small scale fire and load
testing apparatus. An empirical relationship was developed to predict the stiffness of
single skin and sandwich panels during a fire and load test.
Numerical models have also been generated to predict the thermo-mechanical response
of single skin and sandwich panels to fire and load. Testing of single skin and sandwich
panels on the newly developed apparatus has been conducted to verify the numerical
The numerical models and the empirical relationship were used to predict the response
of a full scale composite sandwich panel, representative of a lifeboat deck, to a standard
cellulosic fire and mechanical load.
Actions (login required)