Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Test Breakaway Walls For Coastal Homes, Buildings

Date:
May 25, 2001
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Nothing can prevent a storm from hitting, but a team of North Carolina State University researchers is testing new designs for "breakaway walls" that could reduce damage to homes and buildings should a hurricane make landfall.

Floyd, Fran and Bertha -- they’re meaningful names to people who live along North Carolina’s coast and face the potential for devastating damage to their homes and businesses every hurricane season.

Related Articles


Nothing can prevent a storm from hitting, but a team of North Carolina State University researchers is testing new designs for "breakaway walls" that could reduce damage to homes and buildings should a hurricane make landfall.

Their findings are included in the most recent edition of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Coastal Construction Manual.

Breakaway walls are designed for use on the ground floor of buildings in coastal flood zones. To minimize damage from storm surges, the National Flood Insurance Program suggests that these homes and businesses be built on pilings, or "stilts," and that the ground floor be used only for access, parking or storage. Property owners who choose to enclose this space are urged to use walls that will break away from the rest of the house when pressure exerted on them by a storm surge reaches a predetermined stress load -- usually between 10 and 20 pounds per square foot. Stronger walls would absorb the force of the surging water, jeopardizing the integrity of the entire foundation.

To determine what materials and designs will work best for breakaway walls, a trio of NC State researchers tested eight experimental wall prototypes. The researchers are Dr. C.C. Tung, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Spencer M. Rogers Jr., senior coastal engineering specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant and an adjunct civil engineering faculty member; and Dr. Bohumil Kasal, associate professor of wood and paper science.

Each 8 x 8-foot wood-wall prototype was tested in simulated hurricane storm surge conditions at a wave tank testing facility at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. The researchers placed the prototypes into the tank, which measures 342 feet long, 12 feet wide and 15 feet deep, and directed increasingly strong waves and rising water levels at them until they broke apart. Due to the size and depth of the tank, the researchers were able to test when and how the walls would fail in hurricane-force breaking waves, which exert an exceedingly high-pressure burst against walls as they crest.

Based on their findings, the researchers developed practical guidelines for builders to follow, such as using exterior siding no thicker than -inch plywood or equivalent material; using studs no bigger than 2x4s for breakaway walls; and placing the studs at least 24 inches or more apart. A FEMA technical bulletin containing the full results from the NC State-Oregon State research study on breakaway walls is on the Web at http://www.fema.gov/MIT/job15.pdf.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and FEMA.

Next, the NC State trio would like to test unreinforced hollow-cell masonry walls -- also known as cinder block walls. Because they sink, hollow cinder blocks have the advantage of not becoming large, floating debris after a hurricane, making cleanup easier and reducing potential damage to surrounding buildings. However, testing cinder block walls is more difficult than testing wood walls, because of long cure times for the mortar and the potential of damage to the wave tank itself.

FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual is available on a CD-ROM with interactive links for calculations, cross-references and other useful Web sites. The CD-ROM and a printed version of the manual -- which fills three binders -- are available from the FEMA Publications Service Center at (800) 480-2520. There is no charge for single copies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Researchers Test Breakaway Walls For Coastal Homes, Buildings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010525072300.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2001, May 25). Researchers Test Breakaway Walls For Coastal Homes, Buildings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010525072300.htm
North Carolina State University. "Researchers Test Breakaway Walls For Coastal Homes, Buildings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010525072300.htm (accessed April 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Voice-Controlled GPS Helmet to Help Bikers

Voice-Controlled GPS Helmet to Help Bikers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 1, 2015) Motorcyclists will no longer have to rely on maps or GPS systems, both of which require riders to take their eyes off the road, once a new Russian smart helmet goes on sale this summer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wound-Healing Laser Soon to Be a Reality Israeli Scientist

Wound-Healing Laser Soon to Be a Reality Israeli Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 1, 2015) Israeli scientists says laser bonding of tissue allows much faster healing and less scarring. Amy Pollock has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) Although she never had much interest in prosthetic limbs before, Faith Lennox couldn&apos;t wait to slip on her new robohand. The 7-year-old, who lost part of her left arm when she was a baby, grabbed it as soon as it came off a 3-D printer. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) Dutch architects are constructing a 3D-printed canal-side home, which they hope will spark an environmental revolution in the house-building industry. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins