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Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An experiment. [View All]

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spooked911 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 06:31 PM
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Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An experiment.
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Edited on Wed Oct-05-05 07:29 PM by spooked911
I set up the following experiment using steel rabbit fencing as the steel structure supporting a heavy cement block.

Note, this fencing is easily bendable, has no significant rigidity, and was not reinforced in any way. The fencing was bent into an outer square and an inner rectangle (the core):


Then I damaged the "columns" by cutting them with wire cutters:



Just inside where the gash was made in the outer wall, I placed a cup of kerosene (jet fuel), and there was newspaper around the bottom on the structure.

Then I put a heavy cement block on top, weighing about 15 pounds. I don't think the wire structure would hold more than three of these blocks, so the "safety factor" was not particularly high.


Then I tipped over the cup and lit the kerosene:



Then fire burned for about twenty minutes, and toward the end, I put my foot on the structure to see if it would extra weight. It still did:


The structure held up fine after the fire died:


After the fire was hot, the "columns" were not hot at all:



In a second experiment, I used the same wire fence and block set up, but increased the amount of "airplane damage", added in newspaper all around the inside of the structure, and soaked everything thoroughly with kerosene. In this expt, the fire was more intense and lasted significantly longer, but... the structure held up just fine. (Sorry no pictures of this one).

What I conclude is that a fairly flimsy steel structure does not distort and bend and collapse very easily from a simple hydrocarbon fire. And thus, it is not clear why the much stronger steel columns in the WTC towers weakened so much from fires that the towers underwent global collapse.

If kerosene/jet fuel/hydrocarbon fires can indeed cause steel structures to collapse, it should be quite simple to show this in an experiment-- right?






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