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Student Tests Masonry for Design Improvements

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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In the hopes of changing how masonry walls are built, Adrien Sparling, a Ph.D. student in the civil engineering department at Toronto's York University recently conducted a series of tests to determine how different kinds of reinforced walls resist applied forces, including hurricane winds.

The test sample walls were constructed using different methods—one where steel rebar was placed near the middle of the wall, the other equipped with near-surface mounted reinforcement—and the deflectance of each was tested to the point of wall breakage.

Testing the Barrier

In previous studies, walls built with NSM reinforcement demonstrated the ability to resist high forces without deflecting as much as the conventional alternative. According to Sparling, this results in a stiffer masonry wall that is better for tall structures.

“What I’m hoping is that no one builds conventional masonry anymore, they only use the NSM block with the grooves," Sparling said. "You can still reinforce it in the conventional way but if you need that extra stiffness you can put reinforcement near the outside.”

York University 

In the hopes of changing how masonry walls are built, Ph.D. student of civil engineering at York University in Toronto Adrien Sparling recently conducted a series of tests to determine how different kinds of reinforced walls resist applied forces, including hurricane winds.

This is the third round of tests: The first was on a traditionally reinforced and grouted wall, which had a strength of 40 kilonewtons and deflected over 16 inches before breaking. The second wall was also fully grouted but was also reinforced with NSM, and the results were the same. The third test, conducted Aug. 23, was on a one-story concrete block masonry wall that served as a control test sample. This option was built with two vertical steel reinforcing bars in the middle of the wall, which was partially filled with concrete. The wall only resisted a load of 25 kilonewtons and broke after deflecting roughly five inches.

“The bars are supposed to be held in place with concrete but in this case there was some concrete right at the bottom and the top was filled but there was a gap in the middle on one side so I ended up with premature failure,” said Sparling.

A mason built the wall, and though it was up to Sparling to reinforce it, there was a chance he mixed the concrete incorrectly, according to the researcher. The structure was expected to resist up to 20 kilonewton meters of force.

The fourth and final test will be conducted on a wall equipped with NSM reinforcement, but with no concrete filling.

“The outcome I would like to show is the strength of these two wall systems are equivalent but the new wall system is a lot stiffer,” explained Sparling in an interview during the conventional wall test. “The idea, which is kind of a safety feature of reinforced concrete buildings, is that once you hit the peak load it’s not just going to collapse right away. The steel expands and you’ll see large cracks before it’s actually dangerous.”


Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Masonry; North America; Research and development; Testing + Evaluation; Walls

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