Burning issues in high-rise timber building research
University of Canterbury PhD student James O’Neill with a charred beam that has been dissected as part of the
research into timber’s fire resistance.
Fire resistance has emerged as one of the issues preventing timber from being widely used in commercial buildings, including high-rise structures.
Fire safety officials in the UK recently expressed concerns about the use of engineered timber in tall buildings due to their perceived “fire risk”. Now one of New Zealand’s leading universities is conducting vital research to prove that timber can stand up well in fires.
The University of Canterbury (UC) has produced ground-breaking research in timber engineering that has been on-going in a variety of fields for many years, including the development of a system that can resist high magnitude earthquakes. UC has begun researching fire resistance issues to speed up the use of timber products in the New Zealand construction industry.
Timber buildings are being promoted strongly as playing a vital role in the Christchurch rebuild and world-class research is being conducted at UC to aid in achieving this goal.
Research by PhD student James O’Neill, under the supervision of Professor Andy Buchanan, involves testing full size floors in a large furnace under loads to determine how they may behave in a building fire.