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Thermocol could be used to build earthquake-resistant homes in future

By Eastern Mirror Updated: Aug 23, 2021 11:13 pm

Seismic Zone V is seismically the most active region or most prone to severe earthquakes

Building skeleton made of factory-made EPS core panels. (PIB)

Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Aug. 23 (EMN): People living in earthquake-prone zones like the Himalayan belt, including Nagaland could use thermocol to build their houses in the future in order to face seismic activities better.

As per researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, thermocol could be the material of the future for construction of earthquake-resistant multi-story buildings, with thermal insulation, and could also save energy required to develop construction materials.

Researchers at the premier institute have found that use of thermocol or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) as a composite material in core of reinforced concrete sandwich, could resist earthquake forces on up to four-storey buildings, said an update from the Union Ministry of Science and Technology on Monday.

“The researchers tested a full-scale building and a number of wall elements constructed with thermocol sandwiched between two layers of concrete at the National Seismic Test Facility (NSTF) of the Department of Earthquake Engineering, IIT Roorkee,” read the update.

It informed that research scholar Adil Ahmad, who conducted the tests, ‘evaluated the behaviour of the constructions under lateral forces, as earthquake causes a force predominantly in lateral direction and was supplemented with detailed computer simulation of a realistic four-storey building’.

“Prof. Yogendra Singh, supervising the research, informed that the analysis shows that a four-storey building constructed with this technique is capable of resisting earthquake forces, even in the most seismic zone (V) of the country, without any additional structural support,” it stated.

Seismic Zone V is seismically the most active region or most prone to severe earthquakes. In India, the entire Northeast region, parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, parts of North Bihar, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands fall in the zone.

The researchers ‘attributed the earthquake resistance capability to the fact that the EPS layer is sandwiched between two layers of concrete having reinforcement in the form of welded wire mesh. They said that the force being applied on a building during an earthquake arises due to the inertia effect and hence depends on the mass of the building’.

“Thermocol resists earthquakes by reducing the mass of the building,” said the update.

“In this technique, the EPS core and the wire mesh reinforcement is produced in a factory. The building skeleton is first erected from the factory-made core and reinforcement panels, and then concrete is sprayed on the skeleton core. This technique does not require any shuttering and hence can be constructed very fast,” it added.

The research went on to say that the use of expanded polystyrene core in concrete walls of a building can result in thermal comfort, as it provides the necessary insulation against the heat transfer between building interior and exterior environment.

It said this could help keep building interiors cool in hot environments and warm during cold conditions.

“India suffers a large variation of temperature in different parts of the country and during different seasons of the year. Therefore, thermal comfort is a crucial consideration along with structural safety,” it said.

“The technology also has the potential of saving construction material and energy, with an overall reduction in carbon footprint of buildings. It replaces a large portion of concrete volume from the walls and floor/roof. This replacement of concrete with the extremely lightweight EPS not only reduces mass, thereby decreasing the earthquake force acting on a building but also diminishes the burden on the natural resources and energy required to produce the cement concrete,” it continued.

It may be mentioned that IIT Roorkee had earlier this month launched an Earthquake Early Warning Mobile App, which is compatible for both Android and iOS operating systems,  to notify users about earthquake alerts.

By Eastern Mirror Updated: Aug 23, 2021 11:13:27 pm