In different occasions, Chile has made the news headlines due to the tremors and earthquakes taking place in its territory. An engineer team, led by the Dean of Universidad Católica’s School of Engineering, Juan Carlos de la Llera, made use of the country’s location over the South American Plate as a seismic laboratory to develop an anti-seismic technology, which is expected to minimize eight times the damages caused by quakes.
The technology developed by de Llera’s -also the founding member of SIRVA, a seismic protection company- team has two modalities. The first one entails a seismic base isolation system made out of organic rubber, which has proven to be more elastic than any other synthetic material. De la Llera says these isolators are fixed under buildings and “they make the building slip against the movement underneath it.”
In addition, this technology also has an energy dissipation system that works similar to car dampers. This modality incorporates components that dissipate earthquake energy on buildings.
Both systems have been tested on household buildings, and special techniques have been devised in order to be implemented in heritage buildings. This is the case of Basílica de El Salvador, located in downtown Santiago. The church was built in 1874 and it is currently facing danger of collapsing due to effects of the earthquakes that have hit the area in the last 30 years.
Juan Carlos de la Llera hopes to export this technology to other South American countries. Furthermore, Fundación Imagen de Chile director Myriam Gómez highlighted the importance of these type of technologies for the country’s image: “having this technology internationally is highly relevant to strengthen our country image and thus contribute to all productive sectors competitiveness. Nations that propose technology, science, and environmental solutions achieve an improved reputation.”