Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Fire spalling sensitivity of high-performance concrete in heated slabs under biaxial compressive loading

  • 256 Accesses


Explosive spalling of concrete exposed to fire consists in the violent expulsion of shards from the hot surface due to the interaction between cracking and pore pressure build-up. Fire spalling relevantly increases the overall thermal damage of a structure exposed to fire, thus leading to much higher costs in the repair intervention, and in some cases it can even jeopardize the structural stability due to loss of reinforcement protection and reduction of the bearing cross-sections. High-performance concrete is particularly sensitive to spalling phenomenon due to inherent material features, such as the unstable fracture behaviour and the low permeability (favouring high values of pore pressure). In this context, an experimental campaign has been carried out on high-performance concrete (fc ≈ 60 MPa with silico-calcareous aggregate), without or with one of three different fibre types (steel fibre, monofilament or fibrillated polypropylene fibres). Tests were performed by means of a special test setup developed at Politecnico di Milano, based on slabs (800 × 800 × 100 mm) subjected to Standard Fire at the bottom and to biaxial compressive loading in the mid-plane, while monitoring pore pressure, temperature and deflection. Explosive spalling was observed in both plain concrete slabs and in one of the two slabs with steel fibre, this casting some doubts on the use of steel fibre alone against spalling. No detachment was observed when polypropylene fibre was added to the mix.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. 1.

    Fib (2008) Bulletin 46: fire design of concrete structures—structural behaviour and assessment. International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib), Lausanne

  2. 2.

    Khoury GA, Anderberg Y (2000) Concrete spalling review. Fire Safety Design, report submitted to the Swedish National Road Administration, Sweden

  3. 3.

    Felicetti R, Lo Monte F, Pimienta P (2017) A new test method to study the influence of pore pressure on fracture behaviour of concrete during heating. Cem Concr Res 94:13–23

  4. 4.

    Lo Monte F, Felicetti R, Miah Md. J (2019) The Influence of pore pressure on fracture behaviour of normal-strength and high-performance concretes at high temperature. Cem Concr Compos

  5. 5.

    Fib (2007) Bulletin 38: fire design of concrete structures—materials, structures and modelling. International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib), Lausanne

  6. 6.

    Fu Y, Li L (2010) Study on mechanism of thermal spalling in concrete exposed to elevated temperatures. Mater Struct 44:361–376

  7. 7.

    Khoury GA (2000) Effect of fire on concrete and concrete structures. Prog Struct Mater Eng 2:429–447

  8. 8.

    Khoury GA (2008) Polypropylene fibres in heated concrete. Part 2: pressure relief mechanisms and modelling criteria. Mag Concr Res 60(3):189–204

  9. 9.

    Dal Pont S, Dupas A, Ehrlacher A, Colina H (2005) An experimental relationship between complete liquid saturation and violent damage in concrete submitted to high temperature. Mag Concr Res 57(8):455–461

  10. 10.

    Kalifa P, Menneteau FD, Quenard D (2000) Spalling and pore pressure in HPC at high temperatures. Cem Concr Res 30:1915–1927

  11. 11.

    Huismann S, Weise F, Meng B, Schneider U (2012) Transient strain of high strength concrete at elevated temperatures and the impact of polypropylene fibers. Mater Struct 45:793–801

  12. 12.

    Pistol K, Weise F, Meng B, Diederichs U (2014) Polypropylene fibres and micro cracking in fire exposed concrete. Adv Mater Res 897:284–289

  13. 13.

    Toropovs N, Lo Monte F, Wyrzykowski M, Weber B, Sahmenko G, Vontobel P, Felicetti R, Lura P (2015) Real-time measurements of temperature, pressure and moisture profiles in High-Performance Concrete exposed to high temperatures during neutron radiography imaging. Cem Concr Res 68:166–173

  14. 14.

    Lo Monte F, Felicetti R (2017) Heated slabs under biaxial compressive loading: a test set-up for the assessment of concrete sensitivity to spalling. Mater Struct 50(4):192

  15. 15.

    Krzemien K, Hager I (2015) Assessment of concrete susceptibility to fire spalling: a report on the state-of-the-art in testing procedures. Procedia Eng 108:285–292

  16. 16.

    Mindeguia JC (2009) Contribution Expérimental a la Compréhension des risqué d’Instabilité Thermiques des Béton. Ph.D. Thesis, Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France

  17. 17.

    Mindeguia JC, Pimienta P, Noumowé A, Kanema M (2010) Temperature, pore pressure and mass variation of concrete subjected to high temperature—experimental and numerical discussion on spalling risk. Cem Concr Res 40:477–487

  18. 18.

    Lo Monte F, Gambarova PG (2015) Corner spalling and tension stiffening in heat-damaged R/C members: a preliminary investigation. Mater Struct 48:3657–3673

  19. 19.

    Hertz K, Sørensen L (2005) Test method for spalling of fire exposed concrete. Fire Saf J 40:466–476

  20. 20.

    Tanibe T, Ozawa M, Kamata R, Rokugo K (2014) Steel ring-based restraint of HSC explosive spalling in high temperature environments. J Struct Fire Eng 5(3):239–250.

  21. 21.

    Connolly R (1995) The spalling of concrete in fires. Ph.D. Thesis. The University of Aston in Birmingham

  22. 22.

    Heel A, Kusterle W (2004) Die Brandbeständigkeit von Faser-, Stahl- und Spannbeton [Fire resistance of fiber-reinforced, reinforced, and prestressed concrete] (in German), Tech. Rep. 544, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie, Vienna

  23. 23.

    Sjöström J, Lange D, Jansson R, Boström L (2012) Directional dependence of deflections and damages during fire tests of post-tensioned concrete slabs. In: Proceedings of the 7th international conference on structures in fire—SIF’12, June 6–8, 2012, Zurich, Switzerland, pp 589–598

  24. 24.

    Boström L, Wickström U, Adl-Zarrabi B (2007) Effect of specimen size and loading conditions on spalling of concrete. Fire Mater 31:173–186

  25. 25.

    Jansson R, Boström L (2008) Spalling of concrete exposed to fire. SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Borås

  26. 26.

    Carré H, Pimienta P, La Borderie C, Pereira F Mindeguia JC (2013) Effect of compressive loading on the risk of spalling. In: Proceedings of the 3rd international workshop on concrete spalling due to fire exposure, September 25–27, 2013, Paris, France, p 01007

  27. 27.

    Rickard I, Bisby L, Deeny S, Maluk C (2016) Predictive testing for heat induced spalling of concrete tunnels—the influence of mechanical loading. In: Proceedings of the 9th international conference structures in fire 2016—SIF’16, June 8–10, 2016, Princeton, USA, pp 217–224

  28. 28.

    Miah MdJ, Lo Monte F, Felicetti R, Carré H, Pimienta P, Borderie CL (2016) Fire spalling behaviour of concrete: role of mechanical loading (uniaxial and biaxial) and cement type. Key Eng Mater 711:549–555

  29. 29.

    Rossino C, Lo Monte F, Cangiano S, Felicetti R, Gambarova PG (2013) Concrete spalling sensitivity versus microstructure: preliminary results on the effect of polypropylene fibres. In: Proceedings of the 3rd international workshop on concrete spalling due to fire exposure, September 25–27, Paris, France.

  30. 30.

    Rossino C, Lo Monte F, Cangiano S, Felicetti R, Gambarova PG (2015) HPC subjected to high temperature: a study on intrinsic and mechanical damage. In: Proceedings of the 10th international symposium on high performance concrete—innovation and utilization—HPC 2014, Beijing, China, September 16–18, 2014, Key Engineering Materials, vols. 629–630, pp 239–244

  31. 31.

    Bayasi Z, McIntyre M (2002) Application of fibrillated polypropilene fibers for restraint of plastic shrinkage cracking in silica fume concrete. Mater J 99(4):337–344

  32. 32.

    Lo Monte F, Felicetti R (2015) Experimental methods for spalling monitoring during and after a fire. In: Proceedings of the 4th international workshop on concrete spalling due to fire exposure, Leipzig, Germany, 8–9 Oct 2015

  33. 33.

    Lo Monte F, Lombardi F, Felicetti R, Lualdi M (2017) Ground-penetrating radar monitoring of concrete at high temperature. Constr Build Mater 151(1):881–888

  34. 34.

    Felicetti R, Ferrara L (2008) The effect of steel fibre on concrete conductivity and its connection to on-site material assessment. In: Proceedings of 7th RILEM international symposium on fibre reinforced concrete, Chennai, India, pp 525–536

  35. 35.

    Lo Monte F (2014) Reinforced concrete in fire: from materials behaviour to spalling sensitivity and structural modelling. Ph.D. Thesis, Structural Seismic and Geotechnical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

  36. 36.

    Rossino C (2014) Intrinsic damage and spalling sensitivity of concrete subjected to high temperature. Ph.D. Thesis, Structural Seismic and Geotechnical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Download references


The Authors are grateful to Italcementi S.p.A.—HeidelbergCement Group, Global Product Innovation Department (Bergamo, Italy) for the design of the concrete mixes and the useful contribution in preparing the specimens. Fondazione Lombardi Ingegneria (Minusio, Switzerland) is thanked for the financial support given to this research project. The logistic and technical support of LPM (Laboratory of Material and Structural Testing) at Politecnico di Milano is also acknowledged. Finally, the authors wish to thank Alessandra Piovan, Gabriele Scaciga and Haibin Zhi, who actively contributed to this study in partial fulfilment of their MS degree requirements at Politecnico di Milano.

Author information

Correspondence to Francesco Lo Monte.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The first two authors are members of RILEM Committee TC 256-SPF “Spalling of concrete due to fire: testing and modelling”.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lo Monte, F., Felicetti, R. & Rossino, C. Fire spalling sensitivity of high-performance concrete in heated slabs under biaxial compressive loading. Mater Struct 52, 14 (2019).

Download citation


  • Biaxial loading
  • Explosive spalling
  • Fibre
  • Fire
  • Deflection
  • High-performance concrete
  • High temperature
  • Pore pressure
  • Slab