Dubbed "Smart Seismic Concrete Connection" (SSCC), this material is a combination of two "symbiotic" components: Shape-memory metal alloy bars and high-performance concrete. The result is an element that strengthens the connections between structural materials, and allows structures to recover their original shapes after earthquakes with little need for repairs.
"The use of this system permits having self-centering structures. The invention comes from the desire to solve a need for today’s society: constructing seismic-resistant structures for people, and maintaining their operating capacity after an earthquake, without major repairs or economic losses," researcher José Luis Bonet told AlphaGalileo.org.
In addition to providing an extra measure of protection, Bonet and his colleagues stated that SSCC has a multitude of other benefits. The aim of SSCC is to improve structural performance, hence they designed it to be easy to install within existing walls, beams, and columns. Moreover, SSCC has a great advantage over quake-dampening building pendulums in that it doesn’t require any additional space, nor does it need regular maintenance to continue doing its job.
"Our philosophy is not constructing more solid structures; rather the contrary," said Bonet. "Just as the wind splits a trunk, a reed is flexible enough to bend, adapt to movement and recover its position when the wind stops blowing, without scarcely suffering damages and splitting."
Bonet added that SSCC was specially designed for infrastructure that would need more protection during emergencies, meaning that he and his colleagues had bridges, hospitals, and power plants in mind. Sports venues and shopping centers were also taken into consideration due to the high volume of people that frequent these places. Residential applications were not out of the picture, however, and developers are more than welcome to utilize the SSCC for the construction of homes, apartments, and condominiums.
"In fact, during the lifespan of structures it could be a convenient initial investment as it permits saving costs in the future in the event of an earthquake," noted Bonet. (Related: Massive earthquake is forming under New York City… and it could be unleashed without notice.)
Countries such as Japan and Turkey are highly susceptible to earthquakes, making the development and implementation of anti-earthquake technologies all the more important. To that end, these nations and several others have come up with:
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