Rethinking seismic protection in areas of substandard construction

C. McGlynn, C. Zhu
Rowan University,
United States

Keywords: seismic protection, earthquakes, natural hazards


Populations continue to increase in areas that have high levels of seismic activity, especially in urban communities along the western United States, Japan, China, South America, and India. By 2030, approximately 60 percent of the global population or approximately 5 billion people are expected to live in urban areas. Building construction and the propensity for buildings to collapse significantly contribute to mortality during earthquakes. Due to the significant risk of mortality and morbidity causes by structural collapse or blunt force trauma from falling objects, there is a market need for inexpensive and portable solutions to protect individuals that live in earthquake-prone areas. Rowan University is developing a seismic hazard and kinetic energy risk reduction system, the Shaker Shield. The Shaker Shield is a portable system designed to protect people from being crushed or badly injured by structural failure due to seismic events. It is comprised of thermal-bonded 1,100 decitex, triple layered, polyurethane. The Shaker Shield uses compressed nitrogen to rapidly inflate the puncture-resistant canopy with the canopy fully extending over a user’s bed; can stay inflated indefinitely; and is augmented underneath by the mattress on the bed thereby distributing impact forces over a wide area. The Shaker Shield combined with the mattress could potentially protect in situations involving a building collapse. Competitive Advantages ➢ Portable and inexpensive system that can be widely distributed in areas prone to seismic activity ➢ Rapidly inflates and can stay inflated for extended periods of time ➢ Could also be used as a flotation device in flood situations Opportunity The potential market opportunity for Shaker Shield could be significant in the United State alone with approximately 28 million or 9 percent of the population living in areas with a “high potential” for hazardous earthquakes. On average, there are approximately 10 earthquakes annually that result in significant loss of life. In addition, to the loss of life and injuries that can occur, the economic impact of earthquakes can be devastating. Earthquakes in the United States alone are estimated to result in building damages of over $6 billion annually. Rowan University is looking for a partner for further development and commercialization of this technology through a license. The inventors are available to collaborate with interested companies.