Development of innovative MODular building system with enhanced Fire, Environmental, Structural and Thermal performance (MOD-FEST)

Rajanayagam, Heshachanaa (2024) Development of innovative MODular building system with enhanced Fire, Environmental, Structural and Thermal performance (MOD-FEST). Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis delves into the enhancement of Modular Building Systems (MBS), emphasizing advancements in crucial aspects like fire safety, environmental efficiency, structural robustness, and thermal and/or energy performance within the realm of sustainable, modern, and efficient building construction practices.

As intermodular connections are the pivotal aspect of MBSs which ensures their overall structural performance, stability and installation efficacy, a comprehensive review and case studies were conducted on a range of intermodular connection systems currently used in MBS construction industry. This study mainly focused on identifying their crucial role in the automated assembly and disassembly of MBSs, and architectural and structural challenges and responsiveness under diverse loading and installation scenarios. Additionally, advanced numerical analyses were conducted on set of validated chosen intermodular connections, using which, extended parametric studies were conducted on proposed endplate-type intermodular connections. This extended study revealed that proposed design adjustments notably impact shear performance over tensile capacity while subsequent parametric studies highlighted optimal design combinations which ensure superior, cost-efficient performance feasible for on-site MBS assembly.

In an effort to enhance the energy performance of MBS wall panels, the effect of adopting novel thermal insulation material, Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP), and its position on the Light-gauge Steel Frame (LSF) wall configuration were studied through numerical analysis. This study also investigated the effect of Oriented Strand Board and plasterboard on the thermal transmittance of LSF walls. 56 wall configurations and 112 finite element models were analysed and compared with minimum U-value requirements of UK building regulations. Based on the results obtained, optimum modular LSF wall configurations were proposed by highlighting the MBS thermal performance requirements. The study highlights that introducing a 20 mm VIP panel resulted in a considerable U-value reduction of 63-78%, however, its position had no evident effect.

Additionally, an exploration of the load-bearing fire performance of modular LSF wall panels under Both-Side Fire (BSF) exposure was conducted, utilizing advanced computational modelling. The study highlights that the use of double plasterboards (DPB) proves effective especially in BSF scenarios, with about 118-127% fire rating increments. While Rockwool insulation enhances fire resistance, its impact is complex, displaying non-linear relationships with factors like plasterboard thickness and fire scenarios. Furthermore, BSF scenarios consistently presented a greater challenge than Single-Side Fire, suggesting the need for additional BSF-focused research. While a thicker DPB offers promising structural fire resistance, the study highlights, that its integration demands consideration of broader design, economic, and practical constraints.

Considering the environmental performance of MBS practices, the thesis also presents studies which introduce and analyse flat-pack MBS designs, highlighting their sustainability, eco-friendliness, and adaptability via advanced foldable technologies. Three primary flat-pack techniques, based on the design concept of conventional MBS practices, were conceptualized, and critically assessed against structural, operational, and environmental criteria. Furthermore, an innovative origami-inspired foldable MBS exhibiting significant benefits in constructability, transportation compactness, and on-site installation ease was proposed and analysed. Finite element analysis revealed that such origami MBS designs could be optimized for enhanced structural performance without additional system weight, enhancing space utilization and architectural aesthetics.

Furthermore, in an effort to identify the possible application of MBSs as emergency shelters, a multiple case study approach was adopted through grounded theory methodology focused on identifying list of structural-related issues, associated challenges in addressing them, and some ideal solutions derived. This enlightens a new theoretical approach in post-disaster housing, which encourages more modern, interdisciplinary collaborations and empirical investigations that potentially enhance post-disaster housing sustainability, and facilitate the development of emergency shelter construction schemes.

In conclusion, the research outcomes unveil a multifaceted approach to improve and innovate within the MBS domain, offering structurally sound and environmentally sustainable options for future research and development endeavours in MBSs. This comprehensive exploration not only substantiates the effectiveness and flexibility of MBS but also propels future research in this realm toward conceptualizing and developing sustainable, efficient, and structurally sound MBSs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: modular buildings, thermal performance, modern methods of construction modular building connections, emergency structures
Subjects: H300 Mechanical Engineering
K200 Building
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2024 08:04
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2024 08:15

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