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Adaptive Building Structures for Whole Life Energy Savings


Event details

Date and time 30.10.2015 12:1513:15  
Place and room
Speaker Gennaro Senatore, EngD Candidate University College London, U.K.
Category Conferences - Seminars
Designing structures with minimal environmental impact is now a serious concern in the construction sector. Active control has been used in civil engineering structures for a variety of purposes. The most widespread application so far has been in vibration control. The potential of using adaptation to save material mass and crucially whether the energy saved by using less material makes up the energy consumed through control and actuation is a question that has so far received little attention.
Gennaro Senatore developed a design method that produces an optimum adaptive structure that minimizes the total energy spent throughout the whole life of the structure (embodied in the materials + operational). In a conventional design, members are sized based on a worst case scenario i.e. the maximum expected load combination. If embodied energy is to be saved, clearly, member sizing should not be governed directly by this worst load combination but by some fraction of it. As the loads approach their worst values, passive members will reach their capacity. Then strategically located active elements (actuators) provide controlled output energy in order to manipulate actively the internal flow of forces and stresses. In this way stresses can be homogenized and deflections kept within desired limits. The actuators are only activated for compensation of the displacements and internal forces when the loads reach a certain threshold. Therefore operational energy is only used when necessary. The research to date has successfully demonstrated that up to 70% reduction in structural weight and 50% of total life energy (embodied and operational) was achievable on truss like structures. In addition, using this method it is possible to achieve very slender structures that would not possible to design and build with conventional methods.
A large scale prototype structure was built to validate the numerical findings and investigate the practicality of the method. The prototype is an ultra-slender 6m (length) x 0.8m (width) x 0.15m (depth) (40:1 span to depth) cantilevered truss structure controlled in real-time to maintain serviceability conditions under loading. The structure is 80% lighter than an equivalent passive one, the data gathered from the experiments in terms of energy savings confirm the numerical findings obtained with the simulations.

Bio : Gennaro Senatore is a researcher and designer specialized in computational methods for the design and realization of complex forms and structures. He developed a novel formulation for the design and control of adaptive building structures: high performance structures (light-weight, energy efficient and increased slenderness) capable of counteracting loads actively by means of actuators, sensors and control intelligence. He built a full scale prototype of an adaptive truss structure at the University College London structures laboratory.  He also developed a mathematical formulation for an interactive real-time physics engine as aid for teaching structural engineering. The mathematical model was implemented as the java applet Push¬MePullMe and later as the iOS app Make A Scape both distributed free of charge and currently adopted by several universities world-wide. He previously was the head of computational design and research for the engineering practice Expedition Engineering.

Practical information

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