Revolutionizing Affordable Housing: Dr. Tony Yang’s Research on Reinforcing Concrete Construction with Welded Wire Mesh

Rapid population growth in major cities worldwide has created immense challenges when seeking affordable housing. However, excess construction costs can be reduced by employing concrete elements such as slabs, panels, and beams that are reinforced with welded wire mesh (WWM). This material consists of electrically welded rods to form a uniformly continuous mesh which has been widely adopted in the industry as it has immense production efficiency, speed, and durability while also reducing project costs.

Dr. Tony Yang, a Professor in UBC Applied Science and one of the world’s leading experts in structural and earthquake engineering, spearheaded a project that will examine the seismic performance of concrete components that implement heat-treated and epoxy-coated WWM. Dr. Yang is dedicated to his research to improving solutions for the reinforcement of concrete construction with the use of WWM as a replacement of the rebar in both precast and cast-in-place concrete construction.

Sample configuration
of WWM to be produced by
the industry partner

In support of his project, Dr. Yang is awarded a $1.26 million joint grant from NSERC-Mitacs. This grant will support 9 graduate students, 1 senior research associate, and part-time technicians at the University of British Columbia for 4 years.

Dr. Yang is collaborating with SACKS Industrial Corporation, which is one of the largest private WWM producers in Canada. SACKS Industrial Corporation will lead the research in the heat treatment process of the WWM at its facility. They will also work closely with UBC Smart Structures which will lead the advanced simulation and testing for the use of WWM. These partnerships will bring a vertical integration of expertise from structural engineering, earthquake engineering, and construction management which is essential for achieving innovations in the whole life cycle of high-performance precast building projects.

This project has three components across its life course, consisting of projects A, B, and C. Project A will be dedicated to investigating the behaviour of precast RC slabs reinforced with WWM under gravity load. Project B will be dedicated to investigating the behaviour of precast RC beams reinforced with WWM under gravity and cyclic loads. Lastly, project C will be dedicated to investigating the behaviour of cast-in-place RC walls reinforced with WWM under static and cyclic loads.

Finally, this project will develop a design guideline for the novel structural components with enhanced WWM. This will enable engineers to use the newly developed structural system, and it will make the Canadian construction industry more efficient and competitive, resulting in more affordable housing constructions within Canada.