Concrete buildings are losing the battle against nature’s fury – earthquakes. Although they appear sturdy, older concrete buildings are vulnerable to the sideways movement of a major earthquake. Los Angeles officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have failed to force owners to make their properties safer. Therefore, university researchers compiled a list of potentially dangerous concrete buildings within the city. Their findings point to the fact that society needs to deal with retrofitting structures.
So what does this have to do with FRP composites? Well, everything.
Since the late 1980’s, when glass fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites were first applied as external strengthening systems to rehabilitate and repair reinforced concrete, the construction industry has embraced these materials as an important tool in the engineers toolbox. Numerous structures have been seismically retrofitted with glass and carbon FRP composites ranging from transportation structures (columns, girders, slabs) to building structures (columns, beams, walls, floors). Both reinforced concrete and unreinforced masonry are the targets.
There are still many more structures that need to be fixed and the market potential is huge. The big challenge is where do society, federal, state, city, county and other local governments find the money to keep the public safe in seismic events. What we do know is this; there is design guidance out there provided by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) on how to design with FRP composites to repair concrete and masonry. There will soon be additional design guidance provided for seismic applications and there are a number of companies already offering these materials and products. Thousands of installations show composites are an engineered solution.