Ubc’s ‘un­break­able wall’

En­gi­neers cre­ate con­crete that can with­stand strong­est quake on record

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - NEWS - Wanyee Li

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.

Getty IMaGes

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.

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