Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Macilwraith

Second Advisor

Mr. John J. Murphy


In comparison with many European countries Ireland does not make the most effective use of its native timber. It is good economic and environmental practice to promote the more efficient utilization of this natural resource. In recent years there has been a revival in the use of timber in multi-storey construction which predominantly utilises load bearing exposed timber composite members. These timber composites are typically manufactured in Europe using European timber.

The current study investigates the viability of using Irish grown timber composites as a direct replacement in these load bearing members. The main areas of focus will be the performance of these composites under fire conditions. From initial research undertaken, one of the main issues with Irish grown timber species was found to be its low strength and density. The low density is of critical importance due to the detrimental effect it has on the fire resistance of members.

To date, limited information is available on the mechanical properties of Irish grown timber and virtually no information exists on their performance in fire conditions. It was therefore proposed to undertake an assessment into the potential increase in performance of an Irish hardwood /softwood composite timber member under fire conditions.

The study combines an experimental and a numerical method for the determination of the charring rates in Irish grown timber and the performance of the hardwood/softwood composite. Experimental tests were undertaken on both solid samples and composite samples of Irish grown timber. The samples were exposed to the ISO standard fire curve for a period of 60 minutes using gas-fired kiln.

Finally, the finite element software program, ANSYS, was used to produce thermomechanical models of a number of composite beams, so as to predict their performance under fire conditions.

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