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HSE OTI 92 590

The use of alternative materials in the design and construction of blast and fire resistant structures

Work Package G5

BFETS Phase 1

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SUMMARY

The current use of alternative materials (alternative to steels) in explosion and fire-resistant structures is reviewed in this report. This study attempts to gather the existing knowledge together so that an essential understanding may be established regarding the general availability of explosion and fire-resistant structures constructed in alternative materials and their fundamental behaviour when exposed to fire and explosions.

The information was drawn from an industry wide survey, published literature and the research performed for this project. The major suppliers and manufacturers are identified in the report, together with brief descriptions of their existing and proprietary explosion and fire-resistant products.

Technical details regarding the fundamental material properties and design approaches have been collated. Particular attention has been given to the impact of thermal and mechanical properties of materials upon the methods of design and construction. Existing design codes and regulations are also reviewed. Areas of uncertainty are identified.

It has been identified in this report that GFRP (glass fibre reinforced plastics) and aluminium are two competitive alternative materials for use in the construction of explosion and fire-resistant structures. Sandwich type construction is the most commonly used method for these two materials. This construction method allows lightweight structures and can provide sufficient fire resistance by incorporating proper insulating core materials such as mineral wool or ceramic fibres. GFRP has been used in both fire-resistant cladding and blast walls as well as localised enclosures, but aluminium has only been used in weather and fire-resistant cladding. No explosion resistant structures constructed in aluminium have been reported despite its use in military armours.

Other alternative materials include Kevlar aramid fibre reinforced plastics and stainless steels. The former has been used in localised projectile and fire-resistant enclosures. The latter have been traditionally used in explosion resistant structures and fire protection cladding.

A discussion of the thermal and mechanical properties of stainless steels is given in project report FR1 'Experimental Data Relating to the Performance of Steel Components at Elevated Temperatures'. This discussion is not repeated in this document.

The full report is publicly available from the HSE Website at www.hse.gov.uk/research/otipdf/oti92590.pdf.

Publisher: HSE
Published in: 1992
Keywords:
BFETS Phase 1 / Work Package G5 / Alternative materials

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