Researchers look to make cross-laminated timber earthquake-proof

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University researchers have received a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to that will help builders use more sustainable timber in high-rise buildings in earthquake-prone areas.

As part of the $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant, the researchers will test their designs for a 10-story tall, wooden building by simulating a real earthquake in a laboratory.  CLT is a relatively new heavy timber structural material made of lumber layers that are glued together to create thick, solid wood panels.

Advocates of CLT say it can be used to construct buildings of equal strength and fire-resistance as those made of steel and concrete. It has also fueled the passions of architects and environmentalists, who believe it to be a much greener method for housing the world's growing population. 

Due to its benefits for carbon capture and reduced CO2 emissions in construction, CLT has sparked interest worldwide. Proposals for new projects include a 100-story tower in London, a 40-story building in Stockholm, and a residential complex in Vancouver.  An 18-story CLT wood structure, a student residence at the University of British Columbia, is nearing completion.

Daniel Dolan, professor at WSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his colleagues are designing ways in which the material could be used in a building to withstand earthquakes. They are looking at both structural, load-bearing components, such as walls and beams, as well as non-structural components. One of their designs includes a rod that would run down the middle of a wall - resisting the earthquake’s movement and re-centering the wall when the shaking ends.

“We want to create a building design that will have little damage in earthquakes and still be habitable.  This will allow communities to recover faster,” said Dolan.  “For many Americans, a house is the biggest investment they will have in their lives and we’re trying to protect it.”

Source: Washington State University


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].