Energy dissipator with seismic application will go to validation phase in external conditions

An initiative by Esteban Balboa, a graduate student at UCSC, aims to reduce damage to structures during an earthquake.

Javier Martinez G.

One of the qualities that Chilean construction has shown is its resistance to telluric movements, something that has given the experience of living in a country that daily registers earthquakes of various intensities.

In this context, the student of the Master’s program in Civil Engineering at UCSC, Esteban Balboa, is carrying out the project “Development of a frictional energy dissipator with self-centering capacity for seismic protection of structures”, an initiative financed by ANID and which during the second half of this year it intends to validate in external conditions.

The civil engineer from the House of Studies said that within “science there are technologies that can be applied to structures to make them more resilient, but I believe that Chile has not yet advanced enough. That’s why I decided to go one step further.”

During the subject “Structural seismic protection” he was motivated in this line of research while developing his undergraduate thesis. For this, he received the support of the academic of the Faculty of Engineering, Dr. Nelson Maureira, who developed the physical aspect while Balboa focused on the numerical.

He explained that “the idea is that the system be implemented in the diagonals of the structures or constructions, so that when an earthquake occurs, the energy dissipation is concentrated in a single element. In the worst case, the device should fail and not the entire building. The current philosophy of civil engineering is to avoid collapse, but with this team we bet on avoiding the damage or that the problem is very focused”.


To advance in research, financing was necessary, so he applied and was awarded the ANID 2021 Research Valorization Fund (VIU) for $30 million. In this process, it had the support of the Innovation Support Unit (UAINN) of the Innovation Directorate (DINN). Additionally, it obtained internal financing from the DINN’s Emprende UCSC initiative for $1,000,000.

Regarding both financings, Esteban commented that “they are projects that share the same objectives and only the amount changes. It is about generating a link between the student, the guiding professor, the University and a company, to which we have presented the technology. She has shown interest, but we have had little approach, because for now we have intellectual validations and proofs of concept, that is, the mechanism works”, commented the postgraduate student.

The next phase of the project is its validation under relevant conditions, which translates into the implementation of the device in a structure with loads that resemble real scale, which should be completed during the second half of this year in the laboratory of the San José building. Worker.

commercial applications

Regarding the support of the DINN, Balboa said that it has been fundamental, because he was unaware of the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, which today has allowed him to develop the device from another perspective.

Yoselin Morales, Manager of Entrepreneurship and Sponsorship of the UAINN of the DINN, recalled that as a unit they supported the application to the VIU and provided technical and administrative support during the process.

“One of the implications of Esteban’s application is to understand that the development of his research has commercial applications, which is aligned with the awarded fund, which aims to promote scientific and technological entrepreneurship in universities,” Morales commented.

He added that, during the execution process, as Director the young Engineer has been given technical support in terms of project planning, training in Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as the technical and financial monitoring of his project. “Additionally, the Technology Transfer Office (OTT) has been in charge of advising and managing the process of protecting the intangible assets that derive from its research,” explained the UAINN Entrepreneurship and Sponsorship Manager.