Cold–formed Light gauge Steel Frame (LSF) wall systems are increasingly used in low-rise and multi-storey buildings and hence their fire safety has become important in the design of buildings. A composite LSF wall panel system was developed recently, where a thin insulation was sandwiched between two plasterboards to improve the fire performance of LSF walls. Many experimental and numerical studies have been undertaken to investigate the fire performance of non-load bearing LSF wall under standard conditions. However, only limited research has been undertaken to investigate the fire performance of load bearing LSF walls under standard and realistic design fire conditions. Therefore in this research, finite element thermal models of both the conventional load bearing LSF wall panels with cavity insulation and the innovative LSF composite wall panel were developed to simulate their thermal behaviour under standard and realistic design fire conditions. Suitable thermal properties were proposed for plasterboards and insulations based on laboratory tests and available literature. The developed models were then validated by comparing their results with available fire test results of load bearing LSF wall. This paper presents the details of the developed finite element models of load bearing LSF wall panels and the thermal analysis results. It shows that finite element models can be used to simulate the thermal behaviour of load bearing LSF walls with varying configurations of insulations and plasterboards. Failure times of load bearing LSF walls were also predicted based on the results from finite element thermal analyses. Finite element analysis results show that the use of cavity insulation was detrimental to the fire rating of LSF walls while the use of external insulation offered superior thermal protection to them. Effects of realistic design fire conditions are also presented in this paper
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