Development and characterization of a magnetorheological elastomer based adaptive seismic isolator
One of the main shortcomings in current base isolation design/practice is lack of adaptability. As a result, a base isolation system that is effective for one type earthquake may become ineffective or may have adverse effect for other earthquakes. The vulnerability of traditional base isolation systems can be exaggerated by two types of earthquakes, i.e. near-field earthquakes and far-field earthquakes. This paper addresses the challenge facing current base isolation design/practice by proposing a new type of seismic isolator for the base isolation system, namely an adaptive seismic isolator. The novel adaptive seismic isolator utilizes magnetorheological elastomer (MRE) for its field-sensitive material property. Traditional seismic isolator design with a unique laminated structure of steel and MRE layers has been adopted in the novel MRE seismic isolator. To evaluate and characterize the behavior of the MRE seismic isolator, experimental testing was conducted on a shake table facility under harmonic cycling loading. Experimental results show that the proposed adaptive seismic isolator can successfully alter the lateral stiffness and damping force in real time up to 37% and 45% respectively. Based on the successful development of the novel adaptive seismic isolator, a discussion is also extended to the impact and potential applications of such a device in structural control applications in civil engineering.