Finite-element investigation of cold-formed steel portal frames in fire

Ross P.D. Johnston, James B.P. Lim, Hieng Ho Lau, Yixiang Xu, Mohammed Sonebi, Cecil G. Armstrong, Chee Chiang Mei

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the results of a full-scale site fire test performed on a cold-formed steel portal frame building with semi-rigid joints. The purpose of the study is to establish a performance-based approach for the design of such structures in fire boundary conditions. In the full-scale site fire test, the building collapsed asymmetrically at a temperature of 714°C. A non-linear elasto-plastic finite-element shell model is described and is validated against the results of the full-scale test. A parametric study is presented that highlights the importance of in-plane restraint from the side rails in preventing an outwards sway failure for both a single portal and full building geometry model. The study also demonstrates that the semi-rigidity of the joints should be taken into account in the design. The single portal and full building geometry models display a close match to site test results with failure at 682°C and 704°C, respectively. A design case is described in accordance with Steel Construction Institute design recommendations. The validated single portal model is tested with pinned bases, columns protected, realistic loading and rafters subject to symmetric uniform heating in accordance with the ISO 834 standard fire curve; failure occurs at 703°C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Structures and Buildings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Buildings, structures & design
  • Fire engineering
  • Steel structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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