Mother Nature doesn’t hold back when it comes to exposing the vulnerability of man-made materials. Earthquakes, for example, can reach such a high level of intensity that the strongest buildings are reduced to rubble.
But sometimes, human nature, particularly its innovative side, proves itself a worthy adversary to the destruction caused by natural disasters, as proven by a team of researchers from the Vancouver-based University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada.
The research team recently developed EDCC (Eco-friendly Ductile Cementitious Composite), a concrete treatment that consists of cement, polymer-based fibres, fly ash, and other additives. EDCC helps to increase the resistance of structures vulnerable to earthquake damage.
When the treatment is sprayed onto the interior-facing surfaces of concrete walls, it enables resistance against extremely intense seismic activity. Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a PhD candidate in UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering, explained to ArchDaily how he and his team tested EDCC.
“We sprayed a number of walls with a 10 millimetre-thick layer of EDCC, which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks,” he says. “Then we subjected them to Tōhoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes—and we couldn’t break them.” Soleimani-Dashtaki is referring to the magnitude 9.0-9.1 earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of the Japanese region of Tōhoku in 2011.
The research that led to the development of EDCC was funded by the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence. The treatment is set to be utilised for the first time during the seismic retrofitting (modification to enable better resistance against seismic activity) of the Dr Annie B Jamieson Elementary School, also based in Vancouver.
The positive effects of EDCC’s application are already palpable. It will be exciting to witness the treatment’s long-term effects in various areas around the world.
Photography: UBC Public Affairs