New UBC super concrete will protect schools against megaquakes

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      A type of earthquake-resistant concrete developed by UBC researchers will be used this fall in a seismic retrofitting for a Vancouver elementary school.

      The fibre-reinforced material—known as eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC)—is touted as being strong enough to prevent severe quake damage in vulnerable buildings even when subjected to seismic shocks as strong as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that hit Tohoku, Japan, in 2011.

      According to an October 10 UBC news release, rigorous lab tests failed to defeat the new material: “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,” says Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a PhD candidate in the department of civil engineering at UBC. “Then we subjected them to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes—and we couldn’t break them.”

      Vancouver's Dr. Annie B. Jamieson elementary will be the first school to be seismically retrofitted with EDCC by contractors; the work will be carried out during "the next couple of months", the release said.

      The bulletin further described EDCC as a mixture of "cement with polymer-based fibres, flyash and other industrial additives, making it highly sustainable".

      UBC civil-engineering prof Nemy Banthia supervised the work, the release noted. “By replacing nearly 70 per cent of cement with flyash, an industrial byproduct, we can reduce the amount of cement used,” said Banthia. “This is quite an urgent requirement as one tonne of cement production releases almost a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the cement industry produces close to seven per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

      UBC also said that other applications for EDCC could be homes for First Nations communities, industrial floors, pavement, and pipelines.