Burnthrough Modeling of Marine Grade Aluminum Alloy Structural Plates Exposed to Fire

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Virginia Tech

Current fire induced burnthrough models of aluminum typically rely solely on temperature thresholds and cannot accurately capture either the occurrence or the time to burnthrough. This research experimentally explores the fire induced burnthrough phenomenon of AA6061-T651 plates under multiple sized exposures and introduces a new burnthrough model based on the near melting creep rupture properties of the material.

Fire experiments to induce burnthrough on aluminum plates were conducted using localized exposure from a propane jet burner and broader exposure from a propane sand burner. A material melting mechanism was observed for all localized exposures while a material rupture mechanism was observed for horizontally oriented plates exposed to the broader heat flux. Numerical burnthrough models were developed for each of the observed burnthrough mechanisms. Material melting was captured using a temperature threshold model of 633 deg C. Material rupture was captured using a Larson-Miller based creep rupture model.

To implement the material rupture model, a characterization of the creep rupture properties was conducted at temperatures between 500 and 590 deg C. The Larson-Miller curve was subsequently developed to capture rupture behavior. Additionally, the secondary and tertiary creep behavior of the material was modeled using a modified Kachanov-Rabotnov creep model. Thermal finite element model accuracy was increased by adapting a methodology for using infrared thermography to measure spatially and temporally varying full-field heat flux maps. Once validated and implemented, thermal models of the aluminum burnthrough experiments were accurate to 20 deg C in the transient and 10 deg C in the steady state regions.

Using thermo-mechanical finite element analyses, the burnthrough models were benchmarked against experimental data. Utilizing the melting and rupture mechanism models, burnthrough occurrence was accurately modeled for over 90% of experiments and modeled burnthrough times were within 20% for the melting mechanism and 50% for the rupture mechanism. Simplified burnthrough equations were also developed to facilitate the use of the burnthrough models in a design setting. Equations were benchmarked against models of flat and stiffened plates and the burnthrough experiments. Melting mechanism burnthrough time results were within 25% of benchmark values suggesting accurate capture of the mechanism. Rupture mechanism burnthrough results were within 60% of benchmark values.

aluminum, fire, burnthrough, melting, creep rupture, numerical model, Finite element method, design equations