James MGonigal

PhD Student
Project title: The unintended consequences of low fabric infiltration air rates on the operation of smoke control pressurisation systems

As part of the global drive to improve energy efficiency in support of climate change targets, countries aim to reduce air leakage paths within new and existing buildings.

Air leakage paths however, are a fundamental design factor in smoke control pressurization systems for tall buildings. Such systems are recommended in national building codes to help protect occupants using escape routes in the event of a fire. These systems use fans to pressurize an escape route, keeping smoke out, by creating a positive pressure differential between the escape route and the adjacent space. It relies on air leakage paths to maintain a positive pressure differential.

The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether reducing air leakage paths within buildings, is likely to have a negative impact on the ability of smoke control pressurization systems to adequately perform in the event of a fire due to the subsequent reduction in airflow.

A test rig was constructed incorporating three zones, with a door between each zone; representing a stair, lobby and accommodation area within a residential building. The primary objective of the experiments is to determine under test conditions what pressure changes occur in each zone under different levels of airtightness.