UKM Researchers Develop Fire-Resistant Tunnel Lining

Roszilah Hamid, an associate professor in the civil and structural engineering department at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Photo courtesy of UKM/Roszilah Hamid. A research team from the National University of Malaysia—also known in Malay asUniversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)—recently produced a fire-resistant concrete tunnel lining prototype that was created using 52.5% fly ash, waste material from the coal used in power stations, and nano silica.

The team from UKM, a public university based in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia, is headed by Roszilah Hamid, an associate professor in UKM’s department of civil and structural engineering, along with members from the Smart and Sustainable Township Research Centre (SUTRA), a subgroup within UKM’s Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.

In conducting its research, SUTRA considered a number of pertinent concerns, including the effects of accidents within tunnels that result in fire explosions, the damage caused by such explosions, and the means to minimize the impact of explosions. Preliminary work performed by the research team concluded that most tunnels in Malaysia are not equipped to resist tunnel fire load, which could lead to infrastructure damage.

The team set up two tunnel rigs that were constructed to scale: one of the rigs employed the concrete mix lining prototype patented by UKM, while the other used lining segments from current tunnel construction. Both tunnels were then subjected to simulated conditions of a tunnel fire, including actual temperatures. The tunnel fire test was conducted jointly with the Fire Research Centre of the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia.

“The result showed that the UKM patented concrete mix lining cover remained intact, while the latter was severely damaged, the concrete cover had spalled and the reinforcing steels were exposed,” says Hamid.

With the UKM-patented concrete mix having demonstrated its ability in trials to withstand tunnel fire temperatures up to 1,292 °F (700 °C), the research team hope to develop the passive protective materials in the tunnel lining for future applications.

Source: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,