Recently, researchers from the Department of Science and Technology at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee (Roorkee, India) released their findings on thermocol or expanded polystyrene (EPS). According to these researchers, EPS can be used as a composite material in reinforced concrete that resists earthquake forces in buildings as tall as four stories and provides enough thermal insulation to save energy in developing additional construction materials.
IIT Roorkee researchers tested a full-scale building and a number of wall elements constructed with EPS sandwiched between two layers of concrete. These tests conducted at the National Seismic Test Facility (NSTF) of the Department of Earthquake Engineering evaluated the behavior of these structures under lateral forces that are typically experienced in earthquake conditions. This investigation was supplied with a detailed computer simulation of a four-story building which demonstrated that a building that used EPS materials could resist earthquake forces without any additional structural support.
According to the researchers, the material’s ability to resist earthquakes can be attributed to the fact that the EPS layer was reinforced by welded wire mesh. They theorize that EPS is resistant to earthquakes because it reduces the mass of the building and is therefore less prone to the inertia effect that stems from earthquake forces applied to buildings.
Along with resisting earthquakes, the use of EPS cores can increase thermal comfort. The core provides necessary insulation against heat transfer between the interior and exterior environments. As a result, the building interior is kept cool in hot exterior environments and warm in cool environments.
Because India’s temperatures vary greatly depending on region and season, the use of EPS materials can greatly impact the local construction industry and provide savings in construction material costs. In addition, it is an eco-friendly technology that replaces a large portion of concrete volume with lightweight EPS materials that does not place the same burden on natural and energy resources as concrete.