Steel pipes could be a cheap but effective means of protecting against earthquake damage, according to research published in the Journal of Constructional Steel Research.

Shervin Maleki and Saeed Mahjoubi, both of the Department of Civil Engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, devised a “passive control device for protecting structures against earthquakes”.

Their simple but elegant solution consists of two welded steel pipes, one placed inside the other, with the space between the pipes filled with zinc, lead or some other such metal.

When an earthquake hits, energy is absorbed thanks to the plastification of the steel pipes and of the infill material, as well as friction between all of the different elements.

The researchers list the highlights of their study as including: “The proposed damper is inexpensive, simple to build and highly efficient.”

But they have already gone further, as their study also looks at some of the factors that affect the performance of the infilled-pipe damper.

As such, they have worked towards calculating the optimum sizes of the steel pipes for the best level of protection, as well as providing equations that can be used to calculate key performance parameters of the damper as a whole.