Heat Transfer Programs for the Design of Structures Exposed to Fire
The Finite Element Method was originally developed as a numerical method for stress analysis. It was very quickly applied to heat transfer analysis, and is now used for fluid mechanics, bio-mechanics, hydraulics, and many other problems too complex to be solved analytically. The recent rapid growth in the power of desktop computers has enabled the Finite Element Method to evolve from a tool that was difficult to use, expensive, and rarely used by most engineers to a tool that is now commonly used for analysis. The increasing power of computers can only widen the use of finite element analysis. However, while finite element software is a powerful and indispensable tool, the programs are too often used without proper understanding of the underlying theory and of the limitations of the software. SAFIR is a powerful finite element program for the thermal and structural analysis of structures exposed to fire. It is widely available for educational and research use. However, it is limited by the lack of a comprehensive Users' Manual, and the only Pre-processor, SAFIR Wizard, is limited to steel I sections. This report reviews the use of the Finite Element Method for heat transfer analysis, and discusses some of the features and limitations of SAFIR with the aim of giving the user of SAFIR the understanding needed for reliable finite element modelling. A new Pre-processor has been developed, that widens the scope of the existing SAFIR Wizard for modelling steel sections, and adds Dycore and Hi-bond slabs.