An ingenious invention by German researchers could help prevent walls from crumbling during earthquakes. The researchers have developed an 'earthquake wallpaper' capable of holding together brick walls. The "seismic" wallpaper may help prevent falling masonry walls and the subsequent damage such brings during earthquakes. According to insurer Aon, natural disasters in the Asia Pacific since 2010 have cost the area's economies $A330 billion in damage. The wallpaper technology is the work of scientists at the Institute of Solid Construction and Construction Material Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
The “wallpaper” is made of rigid, super strong glass fibers combined to create a tough elastic covering. To withstand an earthquake, the special wallpaper distributes energy evenly when walls are shaking. The special wallpaper design features fibers running in four directions. The wallpaper will be firmly put up on walls using an adhesive with polyurethane beads. The researchers expect the technology to become commercial in a year’s time.
The wallpaper will keep bricks from falling to give people time to scamper for safety during an earthquake. The technology was inspired by the susceptibility of masonry walls to even moderate quakes. Whereas masonry cuts costs in construction, brick walls aren’t as sturdy in earthquakes. The researchers believe reinforcing brick walls with the super strong glass fiber will make them elastic and resistant to cracking. Separately, the Japanese firm, NEC, added mini earthquake sensors to its cloud-based device platform to analyze structures when small quakes hit to estimate if they will survive the big one.