Regarding its installation, researchers explain that it is put in strategic areas inside the structure with the aim of improving its performance. “Our philosophy is not constructing more solid structures, rather the contrary. Just as the wind splits a trunk, a reed is flexible enough to bend, adapt to movement and recover its position when the wind stops blowing, without scarcely suffering damages and splitting,” explains Bonet. The device is specially designed for bridges, hospitals, power stations, institutional buildings and any other construction that, because of its importance during an emergency, requires higher protection. It is also intended for crowded places, such as athletic and shopping centers. “Of course, it can be used in residential buildings when the developer wants to have an added plus of safety and reduce the possible future repair or demolition costs. In fact, during the lifespan of structures it could be a convenient initial investment as it permits saving costs in the future in the event of an earthquake,” adds Bonet.
High technology components
The connection device consists of two materials that symbiotically resist the earthquake. First, there are shape-memory alloy bars (SMA) that can develop something known as “superelasticity”—the capacity of those metals to recover their shape after stretching and bending, something that steel reinforcements in concrete structures cannot do. Second, there are high-performance concretes developed by ICITECH at UPV, that accompany and complement SMA. “These concretes are much less fragile than conventional ones and are able to adapt to major SMA deformations during an earthquake,” concludes José Luis Bonet.