German engineers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a new building material to protect against earthquakes. The material may be incorporated with new construction or applied to older buildings as well.
A new ‘seismic fabric’ technology was just recently developed that will aide against damaging earthquakes and help buildings to remain more stable. The new material came about by research conducted by Lothar Stempniewski and Moritz Urban of the prestigious Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). This glass fiber plastic fabric is far superior to previous reinforcement fibers experimented with in times past, and it will soon be available on the market.
The fabric can be applied to the walls of a building, which in turn makes the wall far more stable by absorbing the shakes and vibrations from an earthquake. The fabric was designed especially for exterior brick or for the back of stone walls. The developers are also looking at ways to incorporate it in different types of concrete and interior walls.
Most earthquakes are so minor and commonplace that a local population often becomes oblivious to them. Nevertheless, once in a while a >7.0 Richter scale earthquake can and do occur. And some smaller earthquakes may cause destruction on a scale that often goes undetected until the building fails from hidden damages to its tensile strength.
"Thanks to the reinforcement, collapsing of walls due to earthquakes can be delayed and, in the ideal case, be avoided completely," Urban says. "Particularly in the case of short and moderate earthquakes, mostly not much more additional tensile strength is needed to avoid a collapse of the building. The simplicity of that ‘prophylactic dressing’ allows to apply it easily during renovation together with insulation.”
The seismic fabric will be sold under the brand name “Sisma Calce” by the Italian company, Röfix, which is part of the German Fixit Group.