Natural disaster

How stainless steel helps withstand natural disasters

Anna Alejo - 3 August 2017

Over the last six years deadly natural disasters have claimed hundreds of lives in the Philippines. Considered one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, it is vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.

About the author

Mr Anna Alejo
Founder and Business Development Manager, Analytix Maven
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Increasing number of destructive tropical cyclones

In recent years the state weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has confirmed an increase in the number of destructive tropical cyclones. There were a total of 14 destructive tropical cyclones in the Philippines in 2013 including super typhoon Haiyan, considered to be the strongest and most destructive typhoon to make landfall in the world in recent history.

Natural tremors that terrorize

Another destructive force of nature is the violent tremors of earthquakes.  The fear these provoke is often heightened by the unexpected occurrence coupled with intensity and duration. Such was the case in 2013 when a quake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale was recorded in Bohol and Cebu. 

The Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and a resurgence of reminders about the forthcoming 'Big One' predicted to come from the West Valley Fault reverberated in mass media.  A quake of a similar magnitude is expected to hit Metro Manila and Quezon City and this expectation is keeping many city dwellers on tenterhooks.

These alarming occurrences have given rise to Project Noah and the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS). The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) provides the latest bulletins and advisories on the earthquakes and their recorded intensities locally and around the globe. It also gives updates on the status of the active volcanoes that it constantly monitors. 

Prevention is better than cure…

There are only few companies that advise project managers on the best materials to use for architecture and engineering projects. Material selection is a decisive factor for the durability of infrastructural buildings and installations, particularly for those underground. These may pass under water or through mountains where they are rarely seen or monitored once installed.

This wide range of conditions means that each stainless steel pipe is unique and must support its own weight, literally and figuratively.  The material must be able to meet the criteria in an environment that has aggressive atmospheric conditions and is subject to strong vibrations.

The city of Tokyo, for instance, has managed to survive strong earthquakes for the past three decades.  Modular tanks have been made from stainless steel since the 1970s.  The elasticity and ductility of the material absorbs shocks without breaking or cracking. Due to this foresight, even in catastrophic situations, drinking water continues to be available.

Moreover, stainless steel pipes and tubes — Types 316 and duplex — require no added protection for corrosion resistance and its high strength and fire resistance properties provide a long and durable service life, with little or no maintenance.  These properties, together with stainless steels’ mechanical behavior, are of prime importance to ensure humans are protected and underground facilities are installed with the least worry for engineers and disaster managers.

Needless to say, as with cost control, the most important decisions regarding the quality of a completed facility are made during the design and planning stages rather than during construction.  It is during these preliminary stages that component configurations, material specifications and functional performance are decided.

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