Lakehead research into an innovative mass timber beam-to-column connection received Canadian patent certificate

Photo of mass timber beam-to-column connection
Mass timber beam-to-column connection before it was tested in fire. 
April 22, 2022 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

A Lakehead University Civil Engineering professor and graduate student have published the results of a new study on the fire performance of an innovative mass timber beam-to-column connection that they designed to achieve one hour of resistance from fire without any additional protection.

Dr. Sam Salem, Associate Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Civil Engineering, and graduate student Cory Hubbard developed and tested the timber beam-column connection, which they described in a research article in fire safety journal, Elsevier, a leading journal in fire safety engineering.

"Currently, an exciting trend in building design is the growing use of mass timber in high-rise buildings,” Dr. Salem said.

“With advanced research on the structural fire performance of innovative building systems, mass timber tall buildings can reach heights comparable to those made of other materials such as concrete and steel.”

The new connection configuration utilizes two fully concealed, mechanically fastened steel rods in glulam beam sections. The fire experiments presented in the published article were conducted in the Fire Testing and Research Laboratory at Lakehead University.

“Fire is a serious hazard for all buildings regardless of the construction material in use,” Dr. Salem said.

“Advantageously, and unlike light-frame wood construction, mass timber like the glulam sections utilized in the innovative beam-to-column connection in this research char on the outside when exposed to fire while retaining strength and slowing combustion.”

The new timber beam-to-column connection configuration has received a patent certificate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – Canadian Intellectual Property Office (Patent No. 3045195) and patent-pending status in the USA.

“I followed the model ‘keep it simple’ when designing this connection,” Hubbard said.

“It is strong and simple to create, has repeatable results, and looks good too. It will please both the architect and the engineer for its concealed design and performance in fire with no addition of extra ugly fire protection.”

Dr. Salem mainly funded this research through a Discovery grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“The world-class Fire Testing and Research Laboratory allows for top-notch research on innovative mass timber building systems with enhanced fire resistance,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

“Thank you to NSERC for funding this exciting research.”

The article can be accessed by typing the following link into your address bar:

The Canadian Patent record for this innovative mass timber beam-to-column connection can be seen here.

Photo of mass timber beam-to-column connection in fire

Mass timber beam-to-column connection in fire. 



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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2022 World Universities Rankings for the third consecutive year, and in the top 100 of 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit