2 Minutes with Michael Montgomery
April 23, 2012
Highrise buildings are becoming increasingly tall and slender. When they sway in the wind, people inside can feel the motion and in extreme cases, motion sickness can occur.
Dr. Michael Montgomery addressed these challenges while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Professor Constantin Christopoulos. The Wind-Earthquake Coupling Damper is an innovative technology for reducing wind and earthquake vibrations in highrise buildings.
I'm a structural engineer. I just finished my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. My focus is on high-rise buildings and also dynamics of large structures.
High-rise buildings are very - they're very dynamic in nature. They behave... there's a lot of movement associated with them. So when wind strikes a high-rise building, it often causes the building to vibrate back and forth, so much so that people at the tops of the building can get motion sickness. So we invented a damper for high-rise buildings. It goes in place of a structural member, so it goes in place of concrete. Our damper device in particular consists of steel plates, and bonded in-between the steel plates is a visco-elastic material, or a high damping material. And when wind loads or earthquakes strike a building, this visco-elastic material is stressed quite a bit, so it absorbs a lot of energy. And we distribute this throughout the height of the structure, and, in doing so, we add a lot of damping or energy absorption to buildings.
In the new phase of construction, you can either build up the walls, so big, concrete walls, you can build them up and then come in after and actually physically install these damper elements, or you can make them monolithic, with the concrete construction, so you can, as you're pouring the concrete, you attach the damper devices, embed them into the concrete and then pour them.
NSERC has been quite instrumental in the development of this technology, so we actually applied for an NSERC Idea to Innovation grant. And we did full-scale testing. We actually took components of an 85-storey building in downtown Toronto, and we tested it in full scale, subjected it to hurricanes, typical wind loads, to earthquakes, and to actually verify if our technology works kind of the way that we were predicting it would do. And it was quite successful.