Student researcher

Nouman Khattak Research Leader

This PhD research focusses on the seismic retrofit of unreinforced masonry building (URM) facades using fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites. URM buildings have performed poorly during previous earthquakes around the globe and are hence considered as seismically vulnerable. One of the common failures reported in URM buildings during earthquakes is the out-of-plane failure of its main walls, facades, gable end walls, chimneys and parapets. The main reason for their failure is that masonry is a brittle material having relatively small ductility, and that the masonry walls are not properly connected to the floor or the roof of the building. These shortcomings can lead to serious safety hazards to the people inside as well as outside the buildings. Therefore, retrofitting URM building components is required to increase their stability during earthquakes and prevent accidents that can harm people and cause property losses. This study will focus on the development of a seismic retrofit method for non-structural components of masonry buildings that will also be applicable to structural components. Sustainable materials such as FRP composites which are considered as low-intrusive and minimally invasive methods will be applied to masonry and its seismic capacity will be evaluated.

In order to evaluate the seismic capacity of masonry walls with and without retrofit, both numerical and experimental studies will be performed. For experimental studies, shake table tests will be performed on masonry walls before and after retrofit. To carry out numerical studies, validated FE models will be used to perform parametric study using finite element software (ABAQUS). The parametric study will be carried out to evaluate the effects of both structure and load related parameters. Change in slenderness ratio of the walls, loading conditions, boundary conditions and FRP reinforcement ratios will be assessed in the parametric study.

Research outcomes will provide experimental and numerical evidences on the seismic performance of masonry facades (parapet and gable walls) with and without retrofit. Test results and numerical studies outcomes are anticipated to assist structural engineers and design practitioners in better understanding the response of unreinforced masonry facades with different types of FRP retrofitting. This research will give confidence to practicing engineers to apply a retrofit technique to protect buildings against future earthquakes. General conclusions of the work will include recommendations for application of the developed guidelines and for future studies.