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Future-proofing buildings : a novel approach to measure the performance of building structures

This research is a fundamental step towards intelligent building structures with load sensing characteristics. It is argued, with evidence from industry leaders, that these will become ubiquitous. It draws inspiration from developments in structural health monitoring of infrastructure projects. It addresses the current gap between the intellectual effort spent by design teams to conceive building structures that satisfy client brief and informational lacunae on the performance of the building structures. This gap restricts opportunities to adapt buildings in future investment cycles. The research poses a challenge: ‘can a novel system be implemented in a building structure to allow real-time monitoring of the performance of key structural elements?’ effectively moving towards intelligent, adaptable buildings. Infrastructure projects which had structural health monitoring systems implemented to monitor and mitigate damage are reviewed. These served as analogues on how to harness data acquired by sensors, transfer them to the building management system and inform decision making. The hypothesis that there is a need to incorporate smart sensors in building structures was put to the test in interviews with thirty business leaders in the construction industry. These interviews identified key attributes that needed to be satisfied by the sensors. Novel stress sensors based on nanocomposite polymer films were explored and tested in laboratory-based experiments both under short-term and long-term loading. The sensitivity of the sensors to a change in load was assessed. Scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy were carried out to assess the characteristics of the sensors. A novel stress sensor, based on a carbon nanotube/polycarboxylate polymer film sandwiched between cement grout layers, was found to be the most sensitive to change in electrical resistance measured when the imposed load was changed. A gauge factor two orders of magnitude greater than the highest factor reported to date on research on stress sensors was determined. This research prepares the ground and maps out the strategic and tactical challenges that are needed to arrive at operational, long timescale, load sensing for buildings.
Date January 2015
CreatorsXuereb, K.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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