Advanced Engineering 2018

Fibre Reinforced Polymers Stand up Against Earthquakes & Hurricanes

19 March 2004

Engineers in the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center (AEWC) have developed a reinforced building panel that substantially increases the structural strength of a typical house.

On March 2, the U.S. Patent Office granted patent 6,699,575 to Habib Dagher and William Davids, AEWC director and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering respectively. The patent is assigned to the University of Maine System, meaning that UMaine has the right to license the technology for commercial development.

The panel increases the sheer strength and ductility of wall, roof and floor systems, says Dagher.

""The panel itself is expected to be useful in southeastern and western regions of the country at risk for high wind and seismic events, where more stringent construction measures apply,"" adds Davids. ""Other potential uses that could impact the construction industry are currently being investigated at the AEWC Center, including applications in modular panelized construction and specially engineered narrow walls.""

At the heart of the technology is the addition of tough fibre reinforced polymer material to the perimeter and other nailing surfaces of building panels including oriented strand board and plywood. When storms and earthquakes cause homes and other structures to collapse, structural failure can often be traced to weaknesses where panels are nailed to framing members such as wall studs or roof rafters. Reinforcing those areas will reduce the likelihood that panel edges can be splintered or pulled away from the framing.

In typical house construction with nails and 2x4 framing, the reinforced panel improves wall strength up to 20 percent, says Davids. ""In an engineered wall we can achieve 100% or better,"" he adds.

The patent also notes that by reducing the potential for structural damage, disaster resistant panels can reduce expenses related to insurance and reconstruction. In 2003, windstorms in the South and Midwest cost insurers about $5 billion, according to Insurance Journal. The most expensive U.S. natural disaster for the insurance industry, the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California, was estimated to have cost about $44 billion, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

The patent is the sixth approved on the basis of AEWC research since the 33,000-square foot centre opened in 2000.

Share this story

Related / You might like...

Cobra International Exhibits Product Range at CAMX 2018

Cobra International will showcase a range of composite products at CAMX 2018, including carbon fibre components for the automotive, transportation, marine, water sports and luxury sectors.

Airtech Introduces High Temperature Vacuum Bagging Materials

Airtech Advanced Materials Group is introducing three new high temperature vacuum bagging materials for thermoplastic moulding processes up to 427°C.

Cobra Publishes Surfboard Case Study from 40 Years Book

Cobra International is celebrating its 40th year and has commissioned a book that will look at 40 key projects and 40 key people that were integral to the company’s growth. ‘Klaus Simmer and The King Cobra: A breakthrough in surfboard design and production technology’ is an extract article from this book and a breakthrough composites product for Cobra, establishing its presence as a manufacturer of high performance windsurf boards and creating global visibility for the Cobra brand.