(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.
Interested in wellbeing programs, events and resources? Every Wednesday at noon you can stop by virtually and ask any questions you may have about Student Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and the PEACE office.Virtual Event
Learn more about Omada Health, a free healthy living program available to eligible UTSELECT members. This will be a live webinar in honor of National Nutrition Month (March) and Diabetes Alert Day (March 23). Get your questions answered and find out if Omada is right for youVirtual Event
Join our Health Education team and our Relationship Advocate as we discuss all things Sexual Health, STIs, Healthy Relationships, and more! This is your chance to learn what wasn't taught in High School! You can even submit questions anonymously and we'll answer them.Virtual Event
Session for social scientists on how to identify and understand which programs within NSF and NIH fund social sciences, what reviewers are typically looking for, and common mistakes to avoid. The presenter will also cover how to identify private foundations that may be interested in funding your social science research.Virtual Event
Join our Health Educators as we go over a very brief and basic presentation over proper nutrition, reading food labels, and portion sizes.Virtual Event
Open to members of the LGBTQ in all stages of identity formation from questioning to integration who seek a safe place to discuss issues.Virtual Event
General Assembly is a time when all members and officers of SGA come together to discuss important issues regarding UTSA and finding solutions through legislation or initiatives. Important updates are regularly given by SGA officers, UTSA administrators, or special guests. Our meetings are open to the public and are held on a weekly basis.Virtual Event
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.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.