Electricity and Carbon Fiber Offer Building Protection

June 1, 2011

There's nothing like a fire, earthquake, or explosion to seriously damage your building. Many owners take special care to put proactive measures in place, but what about strategies that respond to an actual event? Recent technological breakthroughs are yielding new ways to protect your property.

Carbon fiber: Can your building withstand an unexpected explosion or impact? Maybe, if its envelope contains carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). When applied to concrete, the fabric carries 143,000 pounds of force per square inch. The material traditionally strengthens concrete buildings against earthquakes. When layered and anchored to concrete, CFRP increases the bending capacity of walls or columns. Now, new research by the University of Missouri suggests a building can be retrofit with CFRP to increase its anti-terrorism properties.

Electrical currents: Fighting fire with electricity may sound counterintuitive, but researchers have found just the opposite. A study by the American Chemical Society found that the output of a 600-watt amplifier snuffs open flames. The beam of electricity is thought to engage with soot particles, which affects the stability of the flames. The new technology could allow fires to be suppressed from a distance, save valuable water, and avoid harmful chemicals.

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