Shoring up Earthquake Resistance with Anti-Seismic Bricks

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Monday, January 11th, 2016
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A new form of anti-seismic brick promises to improve the earthquake resistance of buildings without requiring complex or expensive structural interventions.

The Sisbrick, developed by engineering researchers from Spain’s Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), is designed specifically for use in the partition walls of buildings, where it can enhance earthquake resistance by insulating the primary structure from horizontal seismic motion.

The brick consists of a unique combination of materials that enhance the way it behaves in response to seismic force. In addition to supporting vertical loads in the form of partition walls, the Sisbrick is also capable of absorbing horizontal seismic motion, which is the key to its ability to improve building integrity in the event of earthquakes.

According to UPV researcher Luis Pallares, the brick’s ability to absorb horizontal movement enables it to act as a form of seismic insulation in the event of earthquakes by isolating the primary structure from the horizontal force affecting the partition walls.

“[The bricks] effectively serve as an insulating barrier, avoiding the transfer of loads from these partition elements to the main structure,” said Pallares. “By doing so, their impact on overall structural integrity in the face of an earthquake is greatly reduced.”

According to ICITECH researcher Francisco Javier Pallares, the Sisbrick marks a major innovation in seismic resistance measures because it is designed to improve the strength of partition walls, which are structural elements that have been long overlooked by conventional research.

“Today, seismic calculations only take 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,” he said.

The ability of the bricks to insulate the primary structure of a building from the impact of force on its partition walls means that such seismic calculations will become more accurate.

Another major advantage of the building product is its inconspicuous form, looking little different from a conventional brick. In addition to its simplicity of form, the bricks only need to be deployed in modest amounts within partition walls when correctly arranged, in order to enhance their the ability of the walls of absorb horizontal motion.

Since taking out a patent for the Sisbrick, UPV has been conducting tests on the thermal and acoustic properties of the material in order to ensure that it meets Building Code requirements.

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