Engineering for Seismic Applications
Related Design Centers
Building Non-structural Components Earthquake Simulation Testing
California Seismic Safety Commission Video
From the outside, the five-story multi-use building at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) looks like many others. This structure, however, is unique. It sits in anticipation of an earthquake and stands ready to help researchers understand the impact of a seismic event and subsequent fire on the nonstructural components and systems (NCSs) inside. Unlike many others, this earthquake is welcomed. For over six years leading researchers, engineers and product manufacturers from a variety of industries have worked together on this landmark research project.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as public and private stakeholders. The purpose is to understand how nonstructural components and systems interact with a building and with each other during an earthquake. Additionally, researchers will evaluate the post-earthquake fire performance of critical systems. A full range of NCSs including a functioning passenger elevator, piping, sprinklers, HVAC, interior walls, suspended ceilings, cladding systems and building content as well as both passive and active fire systems have been installed for evaluation. The data collected will allow participants to check real loads during an earthquake and compare that to the current design standards. Additionally, fire protection systems findings will be made available to designers, contractors, and manufacturers so the learnings can be transferred to practice.
The state-of-the art Network of Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) facility at UCSD will allow researchers to simulate dynamic forces during an earthquake. The installed nonstructural components and systems to be evaluated and the instrumentation inside will allow researchers and industry leading manufacturers to understand the effects of dynamic earthquake forces and fire in this real-world, full-size laboratory.
Hilti’s involvement in the project started in the conceptual phase. In 2006, Hilti researchers had just concluded collaboration with the University of California, San Diego on anchored pipe seismic tests in a seven-story structure. The research team realized that there was a much larger opportunity and need to study the interaction of nonstructural components and building systems, as well as post-earthquake fire protection system performance.
Testing a complete building system at full scale under earthquake and fire loads, provides Hilti a unique opportunity to see what happens when all the systems are connected together. For example, the pipe system is supported by a strut and anchorage system which is protected with firestop as it penetrates a fire-rated wall. By approaching the NCS at the system level, Hilti researchers and engineers will be able to see how our products work together across the system. Data collected from this project will allow us to validate our predictions based on current building code methodologies and from in-house test results obtained at Hilti’s research and development facilities around the world.
Hilti is committed to the industries we serve. By actively participating in high-impact research like the Building Nonstructural Component Systems project, Hilti will continue to help industry professionals by developing better products and supporting better design codes which will result in building even safer infrastructure.