The threat of injury posed from falling debris when buildings collapse – such as occurred at the Apollo Theatre in London – has already been the focus of polyurea practitioners and the material could provide a solution.
Polyurea coatings are already being used to strengthen structures in war and earthquake zones – the British Army use the application in Iraq – is a subject that could gain some attention as accident investigators pick through the debris and evidence at the theater.
Part of a decorative plaster ceiling crumbled and fell onto audience members following a mild storm in the city on Dec. 19.
Tod Rittenhouse, managing director at U.S.-based structural engineering consultancy Weidlinger Associates said polyurea – due to its high elasticity and a resistance to mechanical strain – is "very helpful at keeping bricks or pieces of concrete intact."
He said: "When you have disaster, an earthquake or terrorist attack, polyurea properly applied to a wall will keep debris confined and stop it flying around in space."
Rittenhouse said there may be some application for ceilings and roof structures.