A new specially-engineered brick can isolate partition walls from a building’s main structure to reduce damage in earthquakes, Spanish scientists claim.
They effectively serve as an insulating barrier, avoiding the transfer of loads from these partition elements to the main structure– Researcher Luis Pallaré
Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) say the ‘Sisbrick‘ is designed specifically for use in partition walls and can be readily incorporated into traditional construction techniques, without the need for additional measures or equipment.
The brick can absorb horizontal seismic movements while supporting vertical loads at the same time.
Researcher Luis Pallarés, at the UPV’s Concrete Science and Technology Institute, said Sisbrick’s offering to partition walls is unique.
"They effectively serve as an insulating barrier, avoiding the transfer of loads from these partition elements to the main structure," Pallarés said in a statement issued by UPV. "By doing so, their impact on overall structural integrity in the face of an earthquake is greatly reduced."
Sisbrick also brings real seismic response into line with projected seismic response as calculated at the building design stage, said another researcher, Francisco Javier Pallerés.
"Today, seismic calculations only take into consideration the structure of the building frame and do not consider the partition walls, despite the clear and widely-reported influence they have on a building’s response to earthquakes," he said.
"By isolating the partition walls from the main frame, these calculations become more reliable."
On top of the convenient brick form, only a relatively small amount of these bricks is needed to achieve this seismic isolation, UPV claims.
Laboratory testing proved that if the bricks are arranged in a specific way, a small number of them can bring significant gains in seismic wave absorption.
Tests found that partition walls that incorporate Sisbricks can absorb horizontal movements in the order of three times greater than those that do not.
UPV said that this translates into "considerably less tension in the partition walls, meaning correspondingly less tension is transferred to the building frame during earthquakes".
The Sisbrick has been patented by the UPV. Testing is currently being carried out on the thermal and acoustic isolation afforded by the brick in order to comply with the specifications of the Building Code.
UPV is now looking for collaborators to help commercialise the product.
Photograph: The ‘Sisbrick’ prevents loads transferring from partition walls to the main structure (UPV)