Investigation of adaptive base isolation system utilising magnetorheological elastomer

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Most of current researches on controllable or “smart” base isolation systems have been based on the hybrid of conventional base isolation system with active or semi-active dampers. Although supplementary dampers may help to reduce maximum displacement of base isolation systems and provide adjustable damping to suppress vibrations of the protected structure, it suffers some setbacks such as introduction of undesirable acceleration, limited performance due to the passive nature of base isolation, etc. Moreover, those “smart” supplementary dampers failed to add “smartness” or controllability toward working mechanism of isolation systems, i.e. decoupling ground motion from superstructures. In recent years, the development of adaptive base isolator utilising magnetorheological elastomer (MRE) shed light on “truly” smart base isolation systems in which isolators’ lateral stiffness can be controlled in real time by varying applied current. To this end, the MRE base isolation system exhibits a promising potential for ultimate seismic protection of civil infrastructures due to its ability to maximise, in real time, level of decoupling between ground motion and the superstructure. However, there have been only limited researches reported in this area. In addition, there is lack of throughout investigations, especially experimental investigation, on critical issues and feasibility related design and implementation of such MRE-based smart base isolated system, which is much needed for future development and application. This thesis is aimed at filling aforementioned research gap in development and application of MRE-based smart base isolated system by contributing new knowledge in the fields in terms of: i) modelling of the MRE isolator to capture its forward and inverse dynamic characteristics; ii) comprehensive investigation on the response time of MRE isolator and exploration of approaches to minimise the lag; iii) overcome obstacles in experimental realisation of smart base isolation system; iv) other innovations in seismic protection of civil infrastructures employing MRE isolator.
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