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AEWC Develops New FRP Materials to Minimise Hurricane Damage

06 September 2005

Researchers at the University of Maine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center (AEWC) are researching composite materials to strengthen buildings against hurricanes.

The research is focussed upon developing technology that uses fibre-reinforced polymers which strengthen the roof and wall joints of a building, increasing the structure's ability to withstand high winds by 50 percent to 100 percent, according to professor Habib Dagher, Director of the center.

Habib said that the Center had found a way to strengthen joints by inserting synthetic materials in the panels. Two patents have been obtained that can assist in minimising the effects of hurricane damage on buildings.

According to Habib, one of the patents is a building panel which contains a layer of composite material in the middle for added support. This layer works to secure joints and prevents the fixings from being torn out. According to one source, any structure designed to withstand winds of 120 miles per hour will, with the aid of the new composite fixings, will be able to sustain winds of 170 miles per hour.

All of the research being undertaken emphasises the need to retain the structural rigidity of the structure intact, and preventing water from entering the building.

Once the research is complete, the AEWC plan to make the technology available to homeowners in areas most affected by hurricanes.

UM's research on hurricane-resistant building materials began years ago and was accelerated in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew, Dagher said. Federal Emergency Management Agency engineers discovered at the time that most construction damage caused by high winds occurred at the joints.






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