Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Construction Materials
The fire performance of heavy timber frame structures is often limited by the poor fire performance of its connections. Conventional timber connections, dowelled or toothed plate connections typically use steel as a connector material. In a fire, the steel parts rapidly conduct heat into the timber, leading to reduced fire performance. Replacing metallic connectors with alternative non-metallic, low thermal conductivity connector materials can, therefore, lead to improved connection performance in fire. This paper presents an experimental study into the fire performance of metal-free timber connections comprising a hot-pressed plywood flitch plate and glass-fibre-reinforced polymer dowels. The thermal behaviour of the connections at elevated temperatures is studied using a standard cone calorimeter apparatus and a novel heat transfer rate inducing system. The latter is a fire testing system developed at the University of Edinburgh. The mechanical behaviour of the connection during severe heating was also studied using an environmental chamber at temperatures up to 610°C. The results demonstrate that heat transfer in the non-metallic connections is governed by the thermal properties of the timber, resulting in significant enhancements in connection fire performance.