Strong, elastic 'smart materials' aid design of earthquake-resistant bridges

Strong, elastic ‘smart materials’ aid design of earthquake-resistant bridges

Every time I find an innovative product for building structures, along comes the question: Is it good for Earthquake Resistance? The Caribbean, from where I blog, has a high incidence of earthquakes along with many other coastal countries in America and Occident, just look at the map:


Scientist are currently working with much more ideas for better building performance towards seismic episodes. Elasticity is one of the options for this technology. Some materials are capable of turning back to their original state (memory) and this is not new; but finding it in structures such as bridges, making them more flexible is an aid to the expected movement these structures are designed. These are the materials proposed to fix this issue:
Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs), are considered an innovative solution in the prevention of bridge and structure collapse. It can endure heavy strains and return to its original state through heating or superelasticity. In structural use, it can surely replace the tilting column to its place.
NI•TIN•OL -Nickel Titanium Alloy: As part of the SMAs, this alloy has already the superelasticity capability, and not always has to be enforced by heat.  Absorbs stress generated by earthquakes and return to its original state. It is said to be 10-30 times the elasticity of steel. This is not a new material, it is commonly uses for eye glasses frames, as a material for heat generating in engines, lifting devices and novelty toys!.
Now, the cost? 3% higher cost than steel, but as a higher initial cost, innovative technologies always project much better long term cost and maintenance. This option suggest maintaining the structure in place and prevent collapses in the case of bridges that connect towns.

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.