NEW SUPER CONCRETE TECHNOLOGY ENABLES EARTHQUAKE-RESISTANT BUILDINGS
BY Zoe Phoon
Researchers at Canada’s University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a new seismic resistant concrete called eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC).
This technology will see its first real life application in the next few months as part of the seismic retrofit of an elementary school in Vancouver, according to a UBC media release.
EDCC consists mainly of fly ash. As a result, it makes the exterior of buildings as strong as steel and able to withstand unforeseen disasters.
Also malleable and ductile like steel, EDCC is capable of dramatically enhancing the earthquake resistance of a seismically vulnerable structure when applied as a thin coating on the surfaces.
The UBC-developed technology could save lives around the world, the media release noted.
The researchers subjected EDCC to earthquake simulation tests using intensities as high as the magnitude 9.0-9.1 earthquake that struck Tohoku, Japan, in 2011.
They sprayed a number of walls with a 10mm thick layer of EDCC which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks.
They then subjected such walls to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes, and these could not break.
EDCC has now been added as an official retrofit option in British Columbia’s seismic retrofit programme, and the team will work with contractors to upgrade the Vancouver elementary school.
With the technology, the cost of retrofitting buildings is cut by half.
EDCC combines cement with polymer-based fibres, industrial by-product fly ash and other industrial additives, making it highly sustainable.
By replacing nearly 70% of cement with fly ash, the amount of cement use is reduced.
This is important as a tonne of cement production releases almost a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the cement industry produces close to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The technology is gaining significant attention in India and provides Canadian companies a strong competitive edge in the growing global infrastructure market.
Other EDCC applications in Canada include resilient homes for First Nations communities, pipelines, pavements, offshore platforms, blast resistant structures, and industrial floors.