Niel Van EngelenCan we repurpose old tires as a buffer to protect buildings from earthquake damage? Professor Niel Van Engelen is leading a project to find out.

Team applying old tires as solution to earthquake threat

What if a material that could protect structures from earthquake damage was widely available all over the world? Niel Van Engelen is exploring the use of scrap tires as a type of shock absorber between buildings and their foundations.

A professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Van Engelen is an expert in structural control and earthquake engineering. The project team includes doctoral student Norouz Jahan and master’s student Tanveer Shaik.

The team has been reforming the tires and testing the resulting designs in the Structure Engineering Laboratory in the Centre for Engineering Innovation. Ideally, such seismic base isolators can reduce the force experienced by a building by up to 90 per cent, enabling it to survive even a very powerful earthquake undamaged.

The material poses both advantages and challenges: they are widely available and relatively inexpensive, but the design and make-up of the tires can be inconsistent.

Find the entire story in the 2024 edition of Windsor Engineering magazine.