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NTU researchers use canvas strips to fortify buildings against quakes

By Ng Baoying, Channel NewsAsia
14 June 2007

SINGAPORE : Just two extra seconds could make a difference between life and death, especially during an earthquake.

Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University have come up with an invention that can buy that time - by strengthening the way walls are erected in buildings.

When the earth shakes, buildings collapse, especially if they are poorly constructed.

And that is where these engineers believe they can make a difference.

The best part about their invention is that it doesn't require any high-tech equipment.

All that's needed are a few strips of canvas and glue.

Associate Professor Ting Seng Kiong, who is also director of LIEN Institute for the Environment at Nanyang Technological University, explained: "We put the canvas on the edges, and in a cross.

"During an earthquake, the building will shake and sway. When it sways in one direction, one of the crosses will act in tension, and pull it towards the other direction. It's a simple design. What we did is use canvas and glue, and stick it onto the brick wall."

Researchers find that the wall reinforced with canvas and glue can withstand twice as much shaking compared to other walls.

That translates to more time to escape as well as less danger of injuries from falling bricks in the event of an earthquake.

And the added cost? It's just an additional 10 percent to current building costs.

This fits in with LIEN Institute's philosophy of creating sustainable research without extravagant prices.

"What's important is that it has to be a case appropriate to the community where we are going to apply it to, in terms of materials available and cost," said Pan Tso-Chien, Dean of College of Engineering at Nanyang Technological University.

The institute is already working with two aid groups in Indonesia to reinforce homes and schools using canvas and glue.

They also plan to collaborate with local groups to send their students overseas to help erect more buildings using this method. - CNA /ls

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