What new kind of reinforcement could help older structures remain standing in big earthquakes?

Answer: Spray-on cement.

by / October 19, 2017

Most new structures are built with some level of anti-earthquake reinforcement, but what can we do for all the countless pre-existing buildings that are vulnerable? A team of civil engineering researchers at the University of British Columbia may have a solution — and it's eco-friendly to boot.

It’s called the “eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite” (EDCC). For those who don’t speak engineering, that means spray-on cement that’s nice to the planet. It can be sprayed onto walls as a reinforcement against very powerful shaking.

The trick is that rather than fracturing — as normal concrete does in strong quaking — this stuff bends due to its fiber-reinforced design. In simulations the EDCC kept walls intact when subjected to violent shaking equivalent to the 2011 9.0-9.1-magnitude earthquake in Tokohu, Japan.

The team hopes that the EDCC could eventually be applied everywhere from homes to pipelines to offshore platforms and more.