$8m boost for AUT engineering research

15 Sep, 2022

A funding injection of more than $8 million will boost Auckland University of Technology research into eliminating earthquake damage in buildings.

The $8,231,624  grant is for the five-year research programme Sustainable Earthquake Resilient Buildings for a Better Future, led by engineer Dr Shahab Ramhormozian, a Senior Lecturer at AUT’s School of Future Environments.

The grant comes from the New Zealand Government's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund, which invests in projects to help build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Dr Ramhormozian says his research, in collaboration with Charles Clifton (University of Auckland) and Gregory MacRae (University of Canterbury), as well as his national and international collaborators from academia and industry, will generate optimised, versatile building systems that can withstand severe earthquakes and post-earthquake fire.

The new systems will be unlike current ones, where buildings are seismic-resistant enough to keep occupants alive in a severe earthquake but require extensive and costly repair or total replacement after.

“Using our systems, buildings will suffer no structural damage under severe earthquakes, therefore significantly reducing the cost of earthquakes on the built environment”, Dr Ramhormozian says.

These systems’ development will conceptually benefit from a system that Dr Ramhormozian developed in his PhD research - called the Optimised Sliding Hinge Joint (OSHJ), which is primarily for the moment resisting framed buildings. These systems are relatively affordable and can be used across a range of building types, including to strengthen pre-existing structures.

“Unlike currently available resilient building solutions such as base isolation, which is expensive and has limited scope of application, our technology does not add cost or complexity, compared with conventional systems, and is widely applicable”, Dr Ramhormozian says.

Dr Ramhormozian is one of two AUT academics to receive an Endeavour Fund Grant, announced by Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Dr Ayesha Verrall last week.

Dr Jack Chen, a Senior Lecturer (chemistry) at AUT’s School of Science, received a $1m Smart Idea Proposal grant towards his research into the development of smart materials and dynamic chemical systems with the potential to exhibit ‘intelligent’ and adaptive properties.

From a total of 443 applications for research funding in 2022, 71 grants were approved.

The successful proposals for the 2022 Endeavour Fund were selected by the Science Board, an independent statutory Board, following review by independent experts from New Zealand and overseas.

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