A new method of connecting precast beams and columns will make it possible to quickly repair concrete buildings damaged by extreme events such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

The patented technology, developed at South Dakota State University, can also reduce the amount of damage a building sustains, according to inventor Mostafa Tazarv, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil.Typically, the reinforcing steel bars that link precast beams and columns together are embedded in the concrete components.

Therefore, when damage is so extensive that the connecting bars buckle or rupture, the building will usually have to be demolished, Tazarv explained. “Our idea is to make buildings more like cars, so we can change damaged components whenever needed.”

In the patented design, the precast beam slides into the column and the buckling-restrained reinforcement connects the beam reinforcement to the column reinforcement. “The reinforcing bars are exposed and connect to the beam and column bars using a coupler,” Tazarv said. “Since the bars are exposed at the connection, they can be easily replaced if damaged.”