Fire hazard of compressed straw as an insulation material for wooden structures

Article de Frederic Blondin, Pierre Blanchet, Christian Dagenais, Zafiris Triantafyllidis et Luke Bisby


The construction sector continues to adapt to the challenges posed by climatechange. Architects and engineers aim to build sustainable, energy, resource, andcost-efficient structures by increasingly using bio-based building materials. How-ever, fire safety has always been a significant concern for timber building con-struction internationally. The objective of the study presented in this art icle is todocument fire hazards of compressed straw when used a s thermal and acousticinsulation within wood-framed building assemblies. Three densities of com-pressed straw (75, 125, and 175 kg/m3) were selected and their combustion andthermal responses were evaluated at various scales, in attempt to define the opti-mal density considering various factors. The performance of the straw was alsocompared with commerci ally available insulationmaterialsandthentestedunderexposure to severe heating in medium-scale wood-framed assemblies to evaluatethe impac ts of the straw as compared wi th a noncombustible insulation. The com-pressedstrawwithadensityof75kg/m3was found to have the best behaviorwith respect to both reactions to fire and insulation properties. T he results sug-gest that compressed may have similar or better behavior under the heating con-ditions investigated when compared to a commercially available combustibleinsulation material. The use of this material as a primary insulation i n a buildings isconsidered manageable by thoughtful design, construction, and building use with-out unduly increasing risks associated with fire.

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