(August 7, 2019) -- More than 80,000 aftershocks have been recorded in the aftermath of the two California earthquakes that occurred during the Fourth of July holiday. Californians, generally complacent about earthquakes, were caught by surprise with tremors that were the largest in magnitude in the last decade. Although there was no loss of human life, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the earthquakes led to economic losses of approximately $1 billion. Now researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have won funding to test architectural materials that can help reduce the lateral movement caused by seismic events with little disruption to everyday life.
“Imagine using just one material that can both hold the weight of a building but also dissipate the energy of an earthquake,” said David Restrepo, assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Architects presently rely on metallic or thick and elastic dampers to help mitigate the movement of a building during tremors. However, these same damping devices deform upon impact or melt in extreme temperatures such as fires. This inflexibility results in crumbling buildings and expensive reconstructive efforts.
“We’re working on getting new architectural materials with the right shape that can deform upon an earthquake, trap the energy, dissipate it, and then return to its undeformed state without the need of extra processing or repairs,” adds Restrepo. “We can create a material that relies on elastic deformation.”
During earthquakes, a building’s walls can shear and cause separation. Restrepo intends to place what’s called periodic cellular materials (PCMs), or repeating structures, within the walls to avoid this deformation.
His solution offers three benefits. First, the reduction of structural steel and costs needed in the construction. Second, it’s lightweight. Third, it absorbs high levels of energy.
Currently, the UTSA researcher is assessing flexible architectural materials and working on mathematical formulas to calculate the strength needed for an optimal product. He will collaborate on the research with Colombian civil engineers at Universidad EAFIT and anticipates having preliminary results ready by the end of this year.
The UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise (VPREDKE) provided seed funding to jumpstart Restrepo's earthquake resilience project.
“This is not just about buildings. It’s also about saving lives. We will eventually incorporate these architectural materials even in cars,” said Restrepo.
Learn more about Restrepo’s Lab.
Learn more about UTSA’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.