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Image credit: Takumi Ota

Carbon fiber strings protect buildings against earthquakes

You wouldn't need to ruin a building's design to keep it from falling down.
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Takumi Ota

The problem with earthquake-proofing a building is that it usually involves grafting on a lot of support -- not really an option with historic buildings or other particularly delicate structures. Komatsu Seiren Fabric Laboratory might have a better way, however. Its carbon fiber-based CABKOMA Strand Rods can protect a building against quakes by tying the roof to the ground, making sure that the whole building moves together -- and thus stays together -- during a tremor. The fibers are both very strong and very light (you can easily carry a 520-foot strand by yourself), so it's more like draping spiderwebs over a building than anchors.

As you might have gathered just by looking at the photo above, the technology has its limits. It won't work for tall buildings, or those in dense urban areas where there's simply no room. This is more for mid-size structures that have plenty of free space. All the same, it might be the key to saving lives in areas where conventional bolts and braces just won't work.

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