Strengthening stone structures at risk from earthquakes
How can structures be improved to survive earthquakes? Can lives be saved? How can City’s academics enable this through knowledge transfer?
Seismic strengthening of un-reinforced masonry structures
A collaboration between City and Target Fixings seeks to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of steel reinforcement products retrofitted to stone structures in areas of seismic activity. The aim of the project is to increase the resistance of structures against seismic forces, saving lives and providing cost effective structural reinforcement.
The collaborating business, Target Fixings, has significant experience in the application of its products in the UK, but lack any expertise in the areas of seismic design, assessment and detailing of structures (its testing capabilities are also limited to basic applications); testing facilities are only available in a small number of UK universities, City being one of them.
Enter City’s research unit (part of the Civil Structures Research Centre), the UK leader in the field of Earthquake Structural Engineering, able to address analysis, design and testing issues that cannot be tackled in a comprehensive way by consulting engineers.
How KTP helps to exploit this business opportunity?
Whilst Target Fixings is well established in the market, its existing work focuses primarily on the traditional factors that cause structural movement, such as subsidence, failure of materials and poor design or workmanship.
Target came to City confident that its products have the ability to withstand the effects of seismic activity, and wants to be able to verify the suitability its products in these situations, but, the lacking expertise in seismic engineering .
Over the course of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, City will apply its highly specialised knowledge in seismic analysis and Target will provide detailed information on their properties collated over 20 years from their use in a different applications.
City and Target are collaborating together, actively promoting the project ensuring Target products’ effectiveness in emerging markets.
Since the year 2000, some 50,000 people per year have been killed due to earthquakes, and by reinforcing low rise existing buildings, this figure could halve.
Benefits and influence of the partnership
By repairing existing buildings before they become damaged, energy expenditure is a fraction of that required to remove/re-build an equivalent structure. Increasing the working life of buildings currently in place will have an immeasurable environmental impact - concrete production is one of the biggest contributors of CO2 emissions on Earth.
Similarly, increasing the working life of existing buildings would also has advantages for conservation, particularly of buildings with historic significance; conservations allows buildings and structures to be appreciated and studied by future generations.
Also, in terms of social impact, if existing buildings can be retrofitted to survive earthquakes with less damage, re-inhabitation of the buildings can happen more quickly, providing less disturbance to people’s lives and work, consequently reducing the demand on aid relief and temporary accommodation.
And, in terms of its research output, two journal publications and two conference papers are due to emerge from this project. One will hopefully be included in Construction and Building Materials (reporting the experimental part of the project, and one in the Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering (reporting the analysis and design that is due to take place).
The collaboration with Target Fixings is set to broaden the teaching provision at City. Britain has numerous masonry structures, but masonry is hardly ever taught in Civil Engineering programmes, even at Masters level. City’s goal is to introduce a new MSc module on Analysis and Design of Masonry Structures, to be taught by Professor Andreas Kappos and Dr Panagiotis Mergos enabling major projects covering aspects like strengthening of masonry buildings, and modelling the wall specimens tested in the project.
Looking to further business development opportunities, through the KTP structure, and the continued work of the Academic Enterprise team, City and Target are set to enter into Intellectual Property exploitation and agreements to continue to expand the influence of the planned research on the seismic engineering market worldwide.
Knowledge Transfer Partnership Team
Assisted by: KTP associate TBC
More about this research
Lead Research Organisation: City, University of London
Project partners: Target Fixings
Topic tags: Engineering
Sector: Engineering, construction and real estate
Funder: Innovate UK
Project Status: Ongoing
Who to contact about this story: Ian Gibbs
More information eg additional websites: External website