Experimental behavior of steel beam-columns subjected to fire-induced thermal gradients

M. M.S. Dwaikat, V. K.R. Kodur, S. E. Quiel, Maria Eugenia Moreyra Garlock

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56 Scopus citations


Fire tests were performed to investigate the mechanics and capacity of steel beam-columns that develop a thermal gradient through their depth when exposed to fire. Wide-flanged specimens were loaded axially and tested vertically in a furnace recently commissioned at Michigan State University. The placement of insulation simulated a realistic three-sided heating scenario such as that experienced by a column on the perimeter of a building frame. Specimens were tested with several combinations of load level, fire scenario, and direction of the thermal gradient (which dictates the direction of bending). The different combinations of tested parameters had a significant influence on the fire response of these columns, which all failed by full section yielding due to a combination of axial load .P/ and moment .M/. These columns developed bending moments in response to through-depth thermal gradients as well as a moment reversal due to a shift in the section's center of stiffness. The plastic resistance to combinations of axial load and moment was also affected by the thermal gradients such that the critical section, located in the hottest region along the column length, was where moment was the smallest (not the largest, as would be intuitively expected). The experiments and computer models showed good agreement with the predicted demands (i.e. bending moment reversal) and capacity (i.e. changes in the plastic P-M capacity).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Constructional Steel Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys


  • Beam-columns
  • Fire resistance
  • Steel
  • Thermal gradient


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