Special bricks designed to protect buildings from earthquakes

Earthquake-proof bricks help reduce damage of buildings

Earthquake-resistant bricks that help buildings survive tremors undamaged have been developed by Spanish researchers.

Dubbed Sisbricks, the blocks are used to isolate partition walls from the main building structure to reduce tension and thus limit damage.

Designed by a team from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the insulating bricks have been made of different materials to absorb horizontal seismic movements whilst also supporting vertical loads of partition walls.

“They effectively serve as an insulating barrier, avoiding the transfer of loads from these partition elements to the main structure,” explained Luis Pallarés, from the UPV’s Concrete Science and Technology Institute (ICITECH).

“By doing so, their impact on overall structural integrity in the face of an earthquake is greatly reduced.”

Unlike existing earthquake-mitigating technologies, the new bricks specifically target partition walls and don’t require any additional measures or equipment.

Research suggests that partition walls are critical for how a building would respond to tremors. However, simply making those walls more resistant is not enough.

“Today, seismic calculations only take into consideration the structure of the building frame and do not consider the partition walls, despite the clear and widely-reported influence they have on a building’s response to earthquakes,” explained Francisco Javier Pallerés.

By isolating the partition walls from the main frame, these calculations become more reliable, making the real seismic response more in line with what was calculated at the design stage.

The researchers say that a relatively small number of Sisbricks are needed to achieve the desired effect. The bricks have to be arranged in a specific way in order to be able to absorb the seismic waves.

In their experiments, the researchers found that partition walls which incorporate Sisbricks can absorb horizontal movements up to three times greater than those that would disrupt regular walls.

 

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