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Canterbury research aims to develop safer steel structures

Canterbury research aims to develop safer steel structures

April 15, 2014

University of Canterbury postgraduate civil and natural resources engineering researchers are developing new methods to improve the performance of steel structures in earthquakes.

New technology being advanced at Canterbury enables the construction of low damage steel structures which can be reused shortly after a major earthquake. This increases their resilience and sustainability, Canterbury engineering researchers say.

Significant efforts at the university are being conducted on different elements of steel structures in the Canterbury testing laboratories, especially looking at connections of the columns to the foundations.

Canterbury PhD researcher Jamaledin Borzouie says the objective of their research is to develop columns connecting to the foundations that can withstand strong earthquakes, without substantial damage.

``This will help the building to be used again shortly after the earthquake with minimal cost. We are testing a range of column-to-foundation connections to determine what can most effectively and economically sustain a large earthquake without significant damage.

``Some of these are base plate connections and others allow rocking of the column on the foundation while using friction to dissipate the energy from the earthquake.

``What is new and exciting about this work is that the no-one has studied on the low damage aspect of column-foundation connection performance before. We are testing some brand new configurations and we are the first to test in a realistic way, allowing for building movement in all north, south, west and east directions.’’

Associate Professor Greg MacRae says traditional steel structures generally behaved well in the Christchurch earthquakes, with few requiring demolition.

``As a result, steel structures are popular in the rebuild. However, some damage did occur, resulting in business interruption while major parts were fabricated and replaced. This technology will assist us to provide business continuity in the future.”

Professor MacRae’s team will continue its research on steel structures this year, working closely with key industry involved in the rebuild.


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