Coupled numerical simulation of fire in tunnel

F. Pesavento, M. Pachera, B. A. Schrefler, D. Gawin, A. Witek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In this work, a coupling strategy for the analysis of a tunnel under fire is presented. This strategy consists in a "one-way" coupling between a tool considering the computational fluid dynamics and radiation with a model treating concrete as a multiphase porous material exposed to high temperature. This global approach allows for taking into account in a realistic manner the behavior of the "system tunnel", composed of the fluid and the solid domain (i.e. the concrete structures), from the fire onset, its development and propagation to the response of the structure. The thermal loads as well as the moisture exchange between the structure surface and the environment are calculated by means of computational fluid dynamics. These set of data are passed in an automatic way to the numerical tool implementing a model based on Multiphase Porous Media Mechanics. Thanks to this strategy the structural verification is no longer based on the standard fire curves commonly used in the engineering practice, but it is directly related to a realistic fire scenario. To show the capability of this strategy some numerical simulations of a fire in the Brenner Base Tunnel, under construction between Italy and Austria, is presented. The numerical simulations show the effects of a more realistic distribution of the thermal loads with respect to the ones obtained by using the standard fire curves. Moreover, it is possible to highlight how the localized thermal load generates a non-uniform pressure rise in the material, which results in an increase of the structure stress state and of the spalling risk. Spalling is likely the most dangerous collapse mechanism for a concrete structure. This coupling approach still represents a "one way" strategy, i.e. realized without considering explicitly the mass and energy exchange from the structure to the fluid through the interface. This results in an approximation, but from physical point of view the current form of the solid-fluid coupling is considered sufficiently accurate in this first phase of the research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComputer Methods in Mechanics, CMM 2017
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Computer Methods in Mechanics
EditorsTadeusz Burczynski, Jaroslaw Latalski, Ewa-Blazik Borowa, Jerzy Podgorski, Jaroslaw Bec, Mieczyslaw Kuczma, Jerzy Warminski
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780735416147
StatePublished - Jan 5 2018
Event22nd International Conference on Computer Methods in Mechanics, CMM 2017 - Lublin, Poland
Duration: Sep 13 2017Sep 16 2017

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other22nd International Conference on Computer Methods in Mechanics, CMM 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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