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Reply #47

In the discussion thread: OK then. Just the facts. 9-11 [View all]

Response to jberryhill (Reply #36)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 11:48 AM

47. Based on sources cited here

 

And other information I've found, I have to admit that NIST's study seems a lot more plausible. Please read these quotes and comment as to veracity.

It is known that structural steel begins to soften around 425°C and loses about half of its strength at 650°C.4 This is why steel is stress relieved in this temperature range. But even a 50% loss of strength is still insufficient, by itself, to explain the WTC collapse. It was noted above that the wind load controlled the design allowables. The WTC, on this low-wind day, was likely not stressed more than a third of the design allowable, which is roughly one-fifth of the yield strength of the steel. Even with its strength halved, the steel could still support two to three times the stresses imposed by a 650°C fire.

The additional problem was distortion of the steel in the fire. The temperature of the fire was not uniform everywhere, and the temperature on the outside of the box columns was clearly lower than on the side facing the fire. The temperature along the 18 m long joists was certainly not uniform. Given the thermal expansion of steel, a 150°C temperature difference from one location to another will produce yield-level residual stresses. This produced distortions in the slender structural steel, which resulted in buckling failures. Thus, the failure of the steel was due to two factors: loss of strength due to the temperature of the fire, and loss of structural integrity due to distortion of the steel from the non-uniform temperatures in the fire.

**cut**

The perimeter tube design of the WTC was highly redundant. It survived the loss of several exterior columns due to aircraft impact, but the ensuing fire led to other steel failures. Many structural engineers believe that the weak points—the limiting factors on design allowables—were the angle clips that held the floor joists between the columns on the perimeter wall and the core structure (see Figure 5). With a 700 Pa floor design allowable, each floor should have been able to support approximately 1,300 t beyond its own weight. The total weight of each tower was about 500,000 t.


As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell. The floor below (with its 1,300 t design capacity) could not support the roughly 45,000 t of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds, hitting bottom with an estimated speed of 200 km per hour. If it had been free fall, with no restraint, the collapse would have only taken eight seconds and would have impacted at 300 km/h.1 It has been suggested that it was fortunate that the WTC did not tip over onto other buildings surrounding the area. There are several points that should be made. First, the building is not solid; it is 95 percent air and, hence, can implode onto itself. Second, there is no lateral load, even the impact of a speeding aircraft, which is sufficient to move the center of gravity one hundred feet to the side such that it is not within the base footprint of the structure. Third, given the near free-fall collapse, there was insufficient time for portions to attain significant lateral velocity. To summarize all of these points, a 500,000 t structure has too much inertia to fall in any direction other than nearly straight down.

This is from http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0112/Eagar/Eagar-0112.html

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