A recent study published in the Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering looks at, amongst others, fire ratings, charring rates and delamination in cross-laminated timber wall panels.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a product consisting of multiple timber layers (lamina) face-glued together to form structural wall and flooring systems. Internationally its use is growing rapidly, although its fire resistance is a topic of ongoing research.

Journal of SA Institution of Civil Engineering. Photo by CLT

Journal of SA Institution of Civil Engineering. Photo by CLT

This study investigates the fire resistance of CLT wall panels manufactured locally from South African pine and eucalyptus, the most commonly used timber species for CLT in South Africa, through SANS10177-2 compliant fire tests of two 100mm (33-33-33) thick CLT wall panel samples with dimensions of 0.9m x 0.9m. In addition to insulation and integrity fire resistance ratings, the study characterises the charring rate and delamination behaviour of CLT. The recommended integrity and insulation fire resistance ratings for the 100mm thick SA pine and eucalyptus CLT samples is 60 minutes and 90 minutes respectively. The average charring rate calculated for the SA pine CLT and eucalyptus CLT panels was 0.95 mm/min and 0.76 mm/min respectively. These values are higher than charring rates for bulk timber, due to significant delamination observed in both tests. Associated structural fire resistance rating was estimated for each CLT panel by rational design, giving structural resistance times of 29 mins and 36 mins for the SA pine and eucalyptus CLT, respectively. These times are notably smaller than the insulation and integrity fire ratings reported above but are only relevant to load-bearing walls. As a result, the tested CLT panels can only be used in multi-storey timber buildings as non-loading bearing walls.

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