A coating on a building’s exterior walls can protect it from the elements and keep it from being blown away in a storm, according to a new study.
Architectural coating experts at the University of Exeter in England and a number of other universities have been trying to understand what’s going on behind the layers of insulation on the building’s facade and exterior walls.
In a new paper, the researchers from the University’s Centre for the Study of Structural Properties and Construction (CSSPCC) and the University College London (UCL) describe how the coating works.
They believe the coating has a major impact on the behaviour of the building.
“The coating has been used in a variety of applications and it has been thought that this could be used in many different applications, including as a means of protecting against earthquakes,” lead author Dr Daniel Gollan told New Scientist.
“However, there are many different types of coating used in buildings, and these can be quite different from one another.”
Dr Gollans team examined a sample of three different types, called ‘architecture coatings’ or coatings of different coatings.
The coatings they used were aluminium, magnesium and aluminium oxide, and each had a different strength.
“We then found that there was a strong interaction between the two coatings and a certain percentage of the thickness of the coating was also affected by this interaction,” he said.
“In other words, the coating is acting as a kind of ‘resilient’ structure to the structure.”‘
Resilient structure’ means the structure is resilient to stress.
“So the building is designed to respond to a particular amount of stress in the same way that the skin of the body is designed in response to certain types of stress,” he explained.
“But the way that these structures are designed is that the structural integrity is not at all dependent on the material that is being used.”
The structure, called a ‘shell’, is composed of layers of a mixture of materials such as aluminium oxide and magnesium oxide.
“As we have seen with our own work on skin, it’s quite possible that our results can be applied to a variety other materials, such as glass, which is a structural mineral, and it would allow us to make structural design predictions about how it would react to different types and levels of stress.”
Dr Georgiou said the team wanted to understand how the layer thickness was determined, so they could design a new coating to replace the current coatings in future buildings.
“One of the interesting things about these layers is that we can make a prediction about what the structure will react to and how much it will be affected by stress,” Dr Georgioulis said.
The team also wanted to know if there was any effect on the structure when the layers were exposed to the elements, but they were unable to find any.
“If the layers are exposed to extreme temperatures, the thickness is affected by the temperature difference between the exterior and interior layers, and that’s the way we can predict how the structure would react,” Dr Gollins said.’
Heat-sensitive’ building The new coating would be able to absorb heat, but the researchers were not sure whether it would do this in a heat-sensitive way.
“I think that it’s very hard to predict what will happen under extreme conditions and that it would be hard to use it for structural purposes,” Dr Gaolin said.
For example, it would not work if the roof were exposed in a thunderstorm.
“What we want to do is to do a very careful investigation to see if we can get it to behave as if it were a structural element,” Dr Paul Golling said.
He said it was likely the coating would only be effective in extreme weather conditions, where there would be more stress.
Dr Georgiuou said a new coat could provide protection in extreme heat, or at other times when temperatures are expected to rise.
“This new coat might not be a big deal if the building was not exposed to very high temperatures, but if the temperature is going up, then we would have a much bigger effect, because you would see the building change its structural structure,” he added.
Dr Gannes added that building design had to take into account a range of environmental factors when it comes to building materials, including the weather.
“Even in the face of very intense temperatures, if the coating can’t absorb the heat and the structure does not change then you could end up with the building being completely damaged,” he told New Science.
“It is very important to design buildings so that they have some sort of resilience to stresses, because we cannot expect buildings to be completely impervious to everything that we put on them.”