An experimental and numerical study on the charring rate of timber beams exposed to three-side fire

Jin Zhang, Zeng Hui Liu, Yi Xiang Xu, Shu Wei Ma, Qing Feng Xu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the charring rate of timber beams exposed to three-side fire, a total of fifteen new and used Douglas-Fir timber beams in four groups exposed to three-side fire were experimentally studied, together with the finite element analyses of the temperature distribution in the beam section. The durations of fire exposure were 0 (on a test piece), 10, 15, 20 and 30 min, according to the ISO 834 standard fire curve. The charring depth of each timber beam was calculated by averaging the values at one-third and two-thirds along each cross section to give the charring rate of timber beams. It was found that the timber beam’s charring rate reduces as the duration of fire exposure increases and the vertical charring rate is slightly higher than the horizontal one. The areas of beam sections reduce due to charring and the strength and stiffness of the pyrolysis layer near the charring edge decrease owing to the high-temperature. The average horizontal and vertical charring rates are 0.98 and 1.08 mm/min, respectively. To take into account the difference between the test furnace temperature curve and the ISO 834 standard fire curve, some corrections were made for these data to yield the solution for charring rate. With the help of the finite element software ANSYS, the temperature distribution of the wood’s cross-section was analyzed. The longer the exposure time is, the greater the effect of density will impose on the distribution of temperature, but the moisture content has no effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3434-3444
Number of pages11
JournalScience China Technological Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Charring layer
  • Charring rate
  • Exposed to three-sides fire
  • Pyrolysis layer
  • Timber beam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (all)
  • Engineering (all)


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