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Shaking It Up

A new device that reproduces earthquake vibrations will be tested today on a two-story, life-size model of a hospital room.
October 12, 2007
Credit: University of Buffalo

Engineers at the University of Buffalo have developed a system that is capable of simulating the effects of the strongest earthquakes. The system, called a Nonstructural Components Simulator (NCS), is scheduled to be tested today in a facility at the university. (The shake test will be webcast here at 3:00 P.M. EDT.)

In the demonstration, engineers will subject a two-story, life-size model of a hospital room fully equipped with beds and medical supplies to the precise floor temblors that would be experienced during an earthquake. The test will simulate how the structural integrity of a building would be affected and how the mechanical and electrical systems would perform.

According to a press release from the university, this is how the system works:

The NCS features a two-story-high, four-column swivel test frame supporting two steel-grid platforms, which together represent two adjacent floor levels in a building. The system replicates two upper levels of a multi-story building through the use of four high-performance hydraulic actuators that push and pull the platforms up to 40 inches in each direction, at velocities of 100 inches per second, simulating in real-time how upper floors move during earthquakes.

A graphic of the NCS.
Credit: University of Buffalo

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