American Society of Civil Engineers

Modeling Membrane Action of Concrete Slabs in Composite Buildings in Fire. I: Theoretical Development

by Zhaohui Huang, A.M.ASCE, (Res. Fellow, Dept. of Civ. and Struct. Engrg., The Univ. of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 3JD, U.K. E-mail:, Ian W. Burgess, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Struct. Engrg., The Univ. of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 3JD, U.K. E-mail:, and Roger J. Plank, (Prof., School of Arch. Studies, The Univ. of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, U.K. E-mail:

Journal of Structural Engineering, Vol. 129, No. 8, August 2003, pp. 1093-1102, (doi:

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Award Title: Raymond C. Reese Research Prize, 2005
Abstract: A nonlinear layered finite element procedure for predicting the structural response of reinforced concrete slabs subjected to fire is described. The proposed procedure is based on Mindlin/Reissner (thick plate) theory, and both geometric and material nonlinearities are taken into account. The complications of structural behavior in fire conditions, such as thermal expansion, cracking or crushing, and change of material properties with temperature are modeled. In this study a total Lagrangian approach is adopted throughout, in which displacements are referred to the original configuration and small strains are assumed. A numerical example, in which a rectangular reinforced concrete slab is modeled at elevated temperatures, is presented. The influences of different thermal expansion characteristics, tensile membrane action, and differential temperature distributions across the thickness of the slab are investigated. It is evident that the nonlinear layered procedure proposed in this paper can properly model the membrane action of concrete slabs in fire conditions. More extensive comparisons with experimental results obtained by previous researchers, both at ambient temperature and in fire conditions, are presented in the companion paper.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Concrete slabs
Composite structures
Fire hazards
Layered systems