Damage Free Structural System to Resist Large Magnitude Natural Hazards

February 13, 2024

Testing pendulum shear wall concept at GW High Bay Structural Laboratory

A grand challenge in structural engineering is to develop structural systems that can resist extreme hazards, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, with minimum or no damage. Damage free structural systems are desirable in construction practice because their structural performance result in immediate occupancy and minimum economic losses following an extreme event. Progress has been made towards this goal with the development of new design schemes, yet limiting issues persist.

Professor Silva is leading a collaborative research project funded by the National Science Foundation. In this research, the team is developing an innovative construction concept that can result in systems performing damage free. This type of performance is desirable when buildings are subjected to earthquakes; because immediate occupancy is restored in the post event phase. In addition, when buildings perform damage free, they do not require extensive repairs, resulting in minimum to no economic losses. The concept under investigation at GW has been designated in this research as a pendulum shear wall. This new type of structural system has been conceptualized for use in the design of new buildings with the main goal of performing damage free under large magnitude natural hazards.

Equipment at GW High Bay Structural Laboratory

The concept consists of un-bonded post-tensioned reinforced concrete walls that interact with the foundation via a curved surface. Lateral deformations are accommodated through a pendulum-type motion as the wall slides along the bottom curved surface. Lateral resistance is provided by friction along the curved surface and the vertical internal post-tensioned cables. This core idea has been validated by Professor Silva and the research team in the GW High Bay Laboratory. Experiments have verified that this new pendulum walls system can perform under large magnitude events without imposing limitations on material and overall system response. Numerical theories and methods of analysis related to damage-free structural systems, friction models, and energy dissipation design have also been advanced through this research.