Scientists have designed “invisibility cloaks” and changed building codes to ensure that future buildings will be less vulnerable to earthquake damage, but how can we protect existing structures from earthquake harm?
By using a special “seismic fabric,” a group of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany thinks they can prevent earthquake damage in older buildings without drastically changing their structures.
The specialized fabric is called Sisma Calce (or “Earthquake Lime”) and because it can simply be added to a building’s walls, it can be used as a low-cost protection option.
Sisma Calce is made of glass fibers and elastic polypropylene fibers laid in four directions for added strength. It can be retrofitted to older buildings using special plaster to reinforce exterior walls and reduce earthquake-induced stresses to prevent damage to the wall that would allow cracks to form. In a small or medium earthquake, this may be all that is needed.
Italian manufacturer Röfix plans to commercialize both the material and the plaster needed to apply it to stone and brick walls.
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