Ubc’s ‘unbreakable wall’
Engineers create concrete that can withstand strongest quake on record
Parents of students at one Vancouver elementary school can rest easy knowing their children will spend their days in a building that can withstand the largest earthquakes ever recorded.
Engineers at UBC have developed a type of seismic-resistant concrete that can withstand earthquakes with magnitudes as high as 9.1, like the earthquake that struck Tohoku, Japan in 2011.
The material is called an eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC) and is so strong and flexible that it acts like steel, bending during an earthquake instead of crumbling like concrete.
Walls that are sprayed on both sides with the material performed so well in seismic tests that UBC engineers dubbed it the “unbreakable wall.”
“The results of these tests have been amazing,” said UBC engineering PhD candidate Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki.
In fact, Soleimani-Dashtaki had to turn the dial to three-times the magnitude of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in order to break down a twometre wall of EDCC in seismic tests.
Minister of Advanced Education Melanie Mark announced Tuesday workers will spray EDCC onto the walls of Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary in Vancouver as part of its seismic retrofit in the coming weeks. Funding for that project was announced last fall, but 118 schools in the province remain vulnerable.
“There are projects that are long overdue in this province. Schools have been neglected for a long number of years,” said Mark.
Up until September 2016, the previous B.C. Liberal government required school boards to achieve a 95 per cent enrolment rate before they were eligible to receive funding for seismic upgrades.
The technology developed at UBC will cut retrofit costs in half, added UBC civil engineering professor Nemy Banthia, who supervised the EDCC project.
UBC engineers have developed a type of concrete that would keep walls standing during an earthquake — even during a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, like the one pictured here in New Zealand.