Researchers at the University of British Columbia will be watching the first real-life application of their newly created seismic-resistant, fibre-reinforced concrete developed in their lab as it is applied to a Vancouver elementary school as part of a retrofit project.
The new material, called eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC), is a thin coating sprayed on interior surfaces to a depth of about 10 millimeters.
In tests, the UBC researchers subjected the EDCC to simulated quakes comparable to the 9.1 earthquake that struck Tohoku, Japan in 2011. The results, as seen in the video, are extremely promising. EDCC is being considered for other applications including pipelines, pavements, blast-resistant structures, and industrial floors, offshore platforms and resilient homes in First Nations communities.
The EDCC is engineered at the molecular scale to be strong, malleable, and ductile, similar to steel and is capable of dramatically enhancing the earthquake resistance of a vulnerable structure when applied as a thin coating. It contains polymer-based fibers, flyash, and industrial additives. According to UBC civil engineering professor Nemy Banthia, who supervised the development, the EDCC formula replaces nearly three-quarters of the cement with flyash, making the product a highly sustainable material.
“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 ton of cement production releases almost a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the cement industry produces close to seven per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The research was funded by the UBC-hosted Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence (IC-IMPACTS), which promotes research collaboration between Canada and India. IC-IMPACTS will make EDCC available to retrofit a school in Roorkee in Uttarakhand, a highly seismic area in northern India.
“This technology is gaining significant attention in India and will provide our Canadian companies a strong competitive edge in the growing global infrastructure market,” added Banthia, who also serves as IC-IMPACTS scientific director.
Video and image: University of British Columbia