Can a new wallpaper prevent a building from collapsing during an earthquake?

Brigitte Osterath reports at Deutsche Welle that researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a material they call intelligent composite seismic wallpaper. Using two main components, high-strength stiff glass fibers and elastic polypropylene plastic woven together in a mesh, the researchers say that the material will absorb energy from a medium earthquake. Most importantly, they believe the material will prevent collapse of a building. However, the wallpaper is not enough to prevent structural damage – it simply provides more time for building occupants to escape safely.

<blockquote><p>"We have tested the fabric on a real house located on a vibrating platform," KIT researcher Urban said. The researchers erected an Italian-style stone building on a 35-quare-meter steel platform and then proceeded to shake it. Without the fiber glass reinforcement, the house would have been completely destroyed at a certain earthquake intensity.</p> <p> "Because of the earthquake wallpaper, we were unable to make the building collapse," Urban said. In fact, the house withstood another earthquake test that was one and a half times more powerful.</p> <p> "Our earthquake wallpaper is optimal for a medium-strong earthquake," Urban. The wallpaper, he added, is suitable only for brick buildings but not those made of concrete, which the wallpaper can't stabilize. Stronger carbon fibers are necessary for that. The German research team is already working on this material.</p></blockquote>    <p>Via <a href="http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15856326,00.html">dw.de</a></p>    <p>The team from KIT's Institute of Solid Construction and Construction Material Technology say that the product is ready for a global launch later this year and will be sold through builders and craftsmen. </p>