Thermal coupling of fluid flow and structural response of a tunnel induced by fire

B. A. Schrefler, R. Codina, F. Pesavento, J. Principe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this work we present the progress in the development of an algorithm for the simulation of thermal fluid-structural coupling in a tunnel fire. The coupling strategy is based on a Dirichlet/Neumann non-overlapping domain decomposition of the problem, which is carried out by developing a master code that controls solvers dedicated to the fluid mechanics and to the solid mechanics simulation. The computational fluid dynamics formulation consists of a stabilized finite element approximation of the low Mach number equations based on the subgrid scale concept, that allows us to deal with convection-dominated problems and to use equal order interpolation of velocity and pressure. The thermo-structural model of the tunnel vault, that considers a multiphase porous material where pores are partly filled with liquid and partly by gas, is specially devised for the simulation of concrete at high temperatures and consists of balance equations for mass conservation of dry air, mass conservation of water species (both in the liquid and gaseous state), enthalpy conservation and linear momentum conservation taking phase changes into account. The developed algorithm is applied to the problem of the response of a tunnel to a fire. We consider the combustion process as a heat release which can vary usually from 1thinspaceMW for small car fires to 100MW for catastrophic fires. The released heat is transferred to the concrete walls of the tunnel which could cause extensive and heavy damage of the structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number1-5
StatePublished - Jul 8 2011


  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Concrete
  • Coupling
  • Fire
  • Fluid-solid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Numerical Analysis


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