Nepal quake: Plan to use old tyres to better protect buildings

Academic says a new technique using waste tyres can provide a cost-effective way of protecting buildings during an earthquake

PHOTO: Nepal was ravaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, claiming at least 7,500 lives and injuring twice as many. Credit: Shutterstock

A professor on a visit to Nepal following the devastating earthquake there has developed a technique to make buildings more resistant using waste tyres, according to media reports.

Using old tyres to increase the resistance of buildings to earthquakes is an affordable means of minimising damage and can be implemented the world over, said Hemanta Hazarika, an Indian civil engineering professor at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.

“These techniques can preserve the environment, mitigate disaster and reduce cost. Judicious combination of these three factors is very important for innovative construction techniques,” Hazarika told the Press Trust of India (PTI).

The professor is part of a Japanese team dispatched to Nepal, which last month was ravaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, claiming at least 7,500 lives and injuring twice as many.

Apart from the massive death toll, the quake also had a devastating impact on buildings in the country. An estimated 175 residential buildings were destroyed in central Kathmandu, while nearly 150,000 dwellings collapsed across the country.

Hazarika, who hails from the Indian state of Assam, has patented one of the techniques developed. A prototype construction of a tyre-retaining wall is planned in Japan within the next few months, which will replace a conventional retaining wall that was destroyed by an earthquake last November in Nagano.

Commenting on the techniques, Hazarika said the first one uses tyre chips as a cushion to prevent damage to waterfront structures during earthquakes.

“The second technique is related to protection of private houses against [earthquakes] and related phenomenon such as liquefaction. Here also tyre chips or tyre chips mixed with sand or gravel are used,” he said.

In the third technique, whole tyres are used to protect sea walls and river embankments from scouring and erosion due to tsunami activity, Hazarika added.

As the sight of tyres is not aesthetically pleasing, trees and shrubs can be planted to cover them up, he noted.

Test results from experiments have indicated that using these techniques leads not only to reduction of the seismic load, but also the seismically induced permanent displacement of the structure, PTI reported.


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