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Research: Forensic Tool for Fire-Damaged Concrete

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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Korean researchers report that they’ve recently developed the world’s first forensic tool for fire-damaged concrete structures.

Led by Youngsun Heo, the research was carried out by the Department of Fire Safety at the Kotma Institute of Computer and Technology (KICT). The institute is reported to have the largest fire safety research facilities in Korea and was built by Korean government to improve fire-safety standard and life quality.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, structures fires caused $12.1 billion in property damage in 2020. When looking at how concrete is affected by fire damage, typically the material’s hydration products within the cement matrix are chemically decomposed. This in turn, leads to cracking and dramatic deterioration of strength.

Depending on the severity of the fire damage, a concrete structure’s service life could also be depleted entirely.

Sylvia Becerra Gonzalez / Getty Images

Korean researchers report that they’ve recently developed the world’s first forensic tool for fire-damaged concrete structures.

Prior to the research conducted at KICT, there was no universal technique to precisely evaluate the level of fire damage to concrete. While there have been previous research papers focusing on aspects such as visual observation, compression testing, UV spectrum and oxygen measurement, none of these have been able to successfully recommend whether a structure in fire scenes should be replaced or repaired.

KICT reports that its fire forensic investigation of structure (F2IS) tool can, however, answer that question. Researchers have found that in taking samples of just 1-2 grams of fire-damaged concrete at every 10 millimeters can produce valuable outputs.

As an example, KICT reported that the F2IS could successfully predict the fire-damaged temperature with over 80% accuracy, and time-temperature curves at the surface of concrete. The tool has also reproduced thermal diffusivity through its adoption of a three-dimensional simulation technique.

In order to create final outputs, F2IS follows a series of protocols:

  • First, the tool enters a fire scene;
  • Second, practical sampling design (PSD) for the fire-damaged concrete structure is taken;
  • Third, experimental design (ED) for selecting appropriate chemical devices for analyzing specific samples;
  • Fourth, chemical profiling algorithm (CPA) for singling out the key features from chemical results; and
  • Finally, the tool utilizes a deep learning interface algorithm (DIA) for comparing the CPA results and the standard data prestored in a big data platform.

The F2SI tool is reported to take less than two weeks to complete the entire PSD, ED, CPA and DIA procedure.

“After fire exposure, service life of concrete structure can drop within two weeks, depending on the damage level. The higher the volume of pores in concrete arising from fire, the faster is the dramatic reduction of life expectancy,” said Heo. “If the structure is not going to be rebuilt, immediate diagnosis and subsequent repairing work should be proceeded even when there is minor damage.”

The research team has already registered the original technology but intends to continue exploring companies in demand to commercialize the F2IS tool for evaluating fire-damaged concrete in fire scenes. In addition to accessing fire-damaged concrete, the F2SI tool is slated to contribute to narrowing down fire scenarios, which are typically concluded by fire investigators.

The team is also planning to develop a rehabilitation system that can chemically cure the decomposition of hydration products and physically fill the cracks due to fire, which in turn can recover the remaining service life of fire-damaged concrete structure.


Tagged categories: AS; China; Colleges and Universities; concrete; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Research; Research and development; Safety; Testing + Evaluation; Tools; Tools & Equipment - Commercial

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