Advanced computer modelling is widely used in fire engineering, not only for life safety analysis, but also increasingly to model structures at elevated fire temperatures.
FEM (Finite Element Method) is a numerical technique used to approximate the complexity of heat transfer in fire engineering. FEM subdivides a complex geometry into smaller, simpler shapes, called “finite elements”. The heat conduction equations, properties and boundary conditions for each such finite element are assembled into a global system of equations that are solved numerically to give the temperature distribution.
As well as being ideally suited to geometrically complex shapes, FEM easily deals with non-uniform systems that are composed of different materials.
FEM modelling is a powerful fire engineering tool for R&D, design and post-event analysis.
For example, it can be used to simulate the extended application (EXAP) of standard fire testing for product and systems made of different materials, with different layer thicknesses, and at different elevated temperatures. The results can provide important information for optimizing the configuration or materials, leading to better solutions and more cost-effective production.
FEM modelling is also perfect for optimizing the design of structures as well as recreating the impact of fire on structures.
FEM modelling can be very expensive and time consuming if you don’t have the necessary tools and expertise – this is exactly where SP Fire Research can help.