Changing the Dynamics with CFD Modelling in Fire Design

One of the key objectives for our fire engineers during the early stages of any project is to spot areas of the design where alternative approaches to that suggested in the Approved Document B of the Building Regulations 2010 (ADB), or other common design guides, need to be developed.

This element of our fire engineers work process is referred to as an ‘engineered’ approach. This approach goes beyond the one size fits all approach discussed in ADB, instead this engineered approach considers the unique layout and use of the building in question and finding the most suitable system without over-specifying.

But how do our fire engineers demonstrate just how an engineered approach will impact on fire safety in buildings, especially as this task usually takes place in the planning and design stages of any build?

With many engineered solutions, especially those relating to smoke ventilation, the short answer is computer modelling such as Computational Fluid Dynamic, or CFD Modelling.

What is CFD Modelling?

CFD Modelling is used in many different industries, including aeronautical and automotive design, to help showcase the movement of a fluid or air over a surface.

tesco-woolwich-car-park-marketing-outputHere at FDS Consult, a similar approach is used for fire engineering. Using a computer model of the building in which we are installing fire safety systems, the software is able to simulate a fire beginning within the building and the smoke that is produced.

The fluid dynamics or movement of the smoke and fire over a set period of time, can be simulated to take into account its physical behaviour, such as hot air rising. This results in the computer model showing areas where the smoke is hotter, denser, or where fire may spread more rapidly.

How do we use CFD Modelling?

Using the model we can highlight areas with heavy smoke buildup, and the software allows our fire engineers to identify where to allocate additional smoke ventilation and other fire safety systems.

greenwich-reach-marketing-outputFor example, this can be through the installation of natural or mechanical smoke ventilation systems, pressurisation systems and sprinklers.

Our CFD model simulation can then be run again with the additional fire safety systems that have been deemed necessary. This provides an easy way of showing the effectiveness of the various fire safety systems in different uses, whilst also allowing for further improvements to the fire safety systems to be spotted and improved.

What benefit does CFD Modelling provide?

In creating a tailored plan for each building project it is possible to make substantial cost and space savings as it removes the possibility of unnecessary fire safety systems being implemented.

CFD Models can also be used to show that certain fire safety systems, due to their superior efficiency, can allow for the extension of compartment (or room) sizes and corridors. This provides more design freedom for both architects and designers, whilst providing more saleable space.

CFD Modelling, with the relevant calculations is used to show Building Control that the fire safety design is effective.

To learn more about CFD Modelling, or to speak to our team of fire safety experts, visit: www.fdsconsult.com/services/cfd-modelling/ 

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