Analysing tall steel structures under fire and seismic force

Project partner: Chongqing Steel Industry

An international project in partnership with Chongqing Steel Industry, Dr. Andy Lim is providing his expertise area of multi-physics, fluid structure interaction (FSI) in analysing the behaviour and safety design of tall steel structures under environmental disasters. By using computational techniques, Dr. Lim and representatives from Chongqing are working to understand the critical weaknesses of tall buildings. Ultimately, the project aims to develop structures with increased structural integrity in the event of an environmental disaster, fire or adverse weather conditions, making buildings more reliable in crisis situations. Due to the popularity of tall steel structures, the impact of the project could range from best practice for safe design to lower casualties in extreme disaster conditions.

Natural disaster on buildings research

 The opportunity

Adverse environmental disasters are a growing problem. Not just in China, where the project partner is located, but all around the world the frequency of disaster-related incidents is increasing. This project is laying the statistical foundation to expose weak points in modern structural design and provide the analytical models to help improve the structure of high rise buildings. More than ever, the construction industry is reliant on taller buildings due to the limited ground space in both established and developing cities. The taller a building is, the more difficult the structural challenge to make it stable in the event of adverse environmental conditions, which is why the computational simulation research of FSI provided by Dr. Andy Lim is vital for developing more robust high-rise buildings. Simulations provided by Dr. Lim’s expertise allow Chongqing Steel Industry to identify issues with structural designs and re-test virtual designs without spending money on expensive prototypes.

China and its surrounding regions are susceptible to adverse environmental challenges, and as a producer of steel for the region, Chongqing Steel need to ensure their design, product and materials can meet these challenges.

The delivery

Through previous connections with the university, Dr. Andy Lim was nominated as a foreign expert and had the opportunity to visit representatives from Chongqing Steel Industry to present his research. From this meeting, it was clear that there was an opportunity and potential in carrying out the research of environmental disaster effects on tall structures. Regular consultations with Chongqing provide analytical support and data to support the development of this research.

Looking to the future

The project goal is to provide improvements on a number of levels. In terms of societal impact, the new structures tested via simulation modelling will provide more safety for people in cities. For businesses like Chongqing, the outcomes of the project should provide income from either further investments or interest in their design and products due to improved performance. In terms of engineering and furthering the knowledge base of construction and materials, the techniques and final products will promote safety-focused design, especially to those areas prone to environmental impacts. The outcome and success of this research could also lead to several more collaborations and external funding.

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Dr Andy Lim

Andy Lim

Lecturer in Civil Engineering

Andy has a strong fluid and structural engineering background and his research interests cover a range of disciplines in the field of computational mechanics. He is particularly interested in measuring the impact of extreme weather on buildings using simulation modelling. He has also worked with local businesses in Swansea, using his expertise to help organisations model prototypes that are expected to undergo environmental pressures.

As the majority of Andy’s work is based around negative environmental impacts, he feels his research is able to help communities affected by natural disasters, as well as businesses that can limit their losses using designs tested by computer simulations. Andy believes that research can be a force to make a positive change, help communities or the world as a whole.

Working in the following areas:

Fluid-structure interactions