SARASOTA, FLA. — A general contractor from Florida who patented a clear PVC wall form that encapsulates concrete sees a long list of potentially life-saving applications for his stay-in-place building system, as well as benefits for everyone involved with the construction, be it a conventional crew, inspectors or soldiers in the field.
PVC-encased concrete can stand up to a 6.0-magnitutude earthquake or a 2,200-pound bomb blast, according to inventor Joe Lanc (pronounced Lance) of Sarasota, Fla., who said he has computer test results from the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) to prove it, at least in theory.
Lanc, 77, calls his invention the Concrete Plastic Unit (CPU). He said houses, businesses, offices and military posts made of cement fortified with the third most-widely used plastic will fare better in hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, floods and terrorist attacks, too.
He designed seven profiles of the clear PVC forms for poured-in-place concrete, which he said is more versatile and error-resistant than other non-transparent, polymer building systems on the market. The forms, which have a blue tint from additives, can be interchanged or modified to make insulated, steel- or fiber-reinforced walls, floors and roofs of what would essentially be all-hazard structures.
"When you encapsulate concrete in plastic you can save lives, prevent total collapse of walls and give people time to get to safety," Lanc said in a telephone interview. "I think plastic is the whole secret to new construction using concrete."
Other possible applications include storing nuclear materials, shielding embassies and military bases, making sea walls, protecting beaches from oil spills, building fish-farm tanks, repairing levees, and replacing sandbags for flood control. Fill the PVC-extruded forms with sand instead of cement and set them along rivers about to crest. When the threat recedes, remove the sand and store the wall forms for future use.
Lanc came up with the idea for the CPU (U.S. Patent No. 6,167,669) after seeing firsthand the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. According to the National Weather Service, the Category 5 storm left dozens dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, and caused more than $26 billion in damage when it touched land in the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana. Struck by the loss of life and property, Lanc got to thinking about a better way to protect the people and possessions in places vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.