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Steel and Composite Structures Research Group

Research activities in the steel and composite structures research group at Brunel University London include experimental studies as well as numerical modelling investigations with a particular emphasis on the practical applications of the research outcomes in the form of development of design guidelines for national and international codes of practice. Some of our current research activities are focused on:

Stainless steel structures: The primary focus of our research is to develop an understanding of the behaviour of stainless steel structural members, joints and frames. Current focus is on the response of these structures under extreme conditions such as fire, impact and seismic loadings. Development of new deformation based design approaches for stainless steel structures is another key activity of the research group.The research team works closely with the Steel Construction Institute, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Imperial College London, industry collaborators such as Outokumpu and the Working Group for Part 1.4 of Eurocode 3.

High strength steel in structural applications: Our research aims at obtaining a better understanding of the structural performance of these structures in order to optimise their use. Research in this area has included collaborations with Imperial College London on an RFCS (Research Fund for Coal and Steel) funded project HILONG. Ongoing collaborations with TWI involve the investigation of the high temperature performance of high strength steels for fire safety design of these structures.Some of the group’s most recent work has involved studying the behaviour of composite beams made using high strength steel. This is a relatively new application for HSS and the current project is conducting finite element analysis to further understand the behaviour. The study is also investigating if current Eurocode design methods (which are intended for normal strength steel) are applicable. Our group has also been investigating the behaviour of HSS beams in fire conditions.

composite beam
Image from finite element model of composite beam

Stainless steel reinforced concrete structures: Targeted use of stainless steel reinforcement in reinforced concrete structures most at risk of corrosion and least accessible for maintenance is therefore very useful solution. The main aim of this research is to study the structural performance and the load-carrying capacity of concrete structures with stainless steel reinforcement with a view on developing design guidance rules for optimum performance of these structures.

Behaviour of structures under extreme loads: For many years, our group has been conducting research into the response of structural elements and systems both during and after extreme events, such as fires, earthquakes and blasts. Most recently, we have been involved in several studies looking at the integrity and response of stainless steel and high strength steel materials to extreme temperatures. This work involves experimental, numerical and analytical studies in order to understand the influence that exposure to high temperature has on the strength and stiffness of materials. The results of experimental studies into these issues are implemented into finite element models of the structural systems such that the influence of fire can be realistically depicted and understood.

We are also investigating the behaviour of composite floor slab systems under fire conditions. Steel/concrete composite structures are increasingly common worldwide, particularly for multi-storey construction. Current work includes the development of sophisticated numerical modelling techniques which can capture the ultimate performance of two-way spanning floor slabs – traditionally, obtaining an accurate depiction of failure has been very challenging. The finite element model can represent the complexities of the behaviour including the temperature-dependent material and geometric nonlinearities. It is being used to develop new design methods for these members under fire conditions.


Isolated Slab Element Finite
Isolated slab element finite element model