Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) in Spain have designed a seismic isolator that improves the way buildings respond to earthquakes.

"Sisbrick" is a class of earthquake-resistant building materials that seismically isolate partition walls from the main building structure. They can reduce the tension between these two elements and thus the damage incurred during a seismic event.

Sisbrick combines different ceramic materials in brick form that allow it to absorb horizontal seismic movements. They also support vertical loads (for instance, partition walls) that act on the integrity of the building frame. The bricks are designed for use in partition walls and can be incorporated into traditional construction techniques without additional equipment.

Sisbrick combines ceramic materials in brick form that allow it to absorb horizontal seismic movements. Image credit: UPVSisbrick combines ceramic materials in brick form that allow it to absorb horizontal seismic movements. Image credit: UPVAccording to Luis Pallarés at UPV's Concrete Science and Technology Institute (ICITECH), merely making partition walls more resistant does nothing to address the more widespread damage caused by earthquakes to buildings. He says the key is to isolate partition walls from the main building frame.

"[Sisbricks] effectively serve as an insulating barrier, avoiding the transfer of loads from these partition elements to the main structure," Pallarés says.

According to UPV researchers, relatively few bricks are needed to achieve gains in seismic wave absorption. Laboratory tests have shown that partition walls incorporating Sisbricks can absorb horizontal movements roughly three times greater than those that do not.

Sisbrick has been patented by UPV, and the team at ICITECH is looking for collaborators to help them manufacture and commercialize the product.

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