QuakeWrap Inc. (Tucson, Ariz., USA) reported on Nov. 12 that it has just completed a project to reinforce the United Nations (U.N.) building in Beirut, Lebanon, against blast loads. Several of the walls of the newly constructed building were reinforced using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) technology. All the required materials such as fabrics and resins were flown to Beirut and the installation was completed by a local contractor under the supervision of QuakeWrap engineers.
Dr. Mo Ehsani, president of QuakeWrap Inc. and Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona, notes that “due to the sensitivity of these projects, we would rather not provide details of the installation. But in general, FRP products can be applied to a wall similar to wallpaper, adding significant strength to the wall. FRP sheets can also be used as a catcher system that would prevent any wall fragments and debris projecting into the building.”
QuakeWrap, Inc. has used similar techniques for the U.S. military and industrial clients. In 2008, one of the barracks at Fort Bragg, N.C. was retrofitted with this technique. Industrial clients typically require blast-hardening of control rooms that have to remain operational in case of an accidental blast or explosion in the plant.
QuakeWrap Inc. developed its blast-hardening system nearly a decade ago. Tests of walls subjected to blast loads can be watched online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrW5QfZ7ECA. The tests demonstrated that the retrofitted wall could withstand the high blast pressure, ensuring survival of the occupants.