New techniques to save Europe's historic buildings

October 6, 2003

Brussels, 03 Oct 2003

Researchers from five European countries, working together on a EUREKA project, have developed new techniques to support historic and decaying buildings.

Decay is caused by age, earth tremors, pollution and traffic. Conventional maintenance involves using wooden or steel buttresses, tie rods and scaffolding, but such methods have a negative effect on both tourism and traffic circulation, while long term maintenance is also very expensive.

The new techniques developed by the COMREHAB project involve using carbon-fibre strips instead of steel bars. This can be used to strengthen masonry, wood and concrete buildings, and cause less damage to the building in question.

The new advanced composites are made up of epoxy or polyester resin matrix. The high resistance synthetic fibres are applied in thin layers to strengthen and stiffen areas under significant stress.

The materials are lighter, are exceptionally resistant to corrosion and are easy to handle, adapting easily to irregular shapes and sizes. Unlike traditional approaches, the new method is also reversible.

More work is needed, however, to convince stakeholders of the advantages and reliability of the carbon-fibre strips. 'The difficulty is an educational one where engineers, architects and public administrators in the construction industry need to be shown the benefits of using these materials,' said project participant Juan Mieres, from Spanish coordinating company, NESCO.

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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