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Icar09 - Structural Engineering - Research




italiano inglese


Research projects


The research areas of Structural Engineering Group of DICAM are:


R.C. structures

  • Seismic Vulnerability

Techniques for the vulnerability assessment through nonlinear static or dynamic analysis. Techniques for reducing the vulnerability through retrofitting projects: plating of structural elements by means of metal elements; confinement through carbon fiber or polymer and cement matrix reinforced with prestressed steel strips (CAM method).

  • Influence of the infills on the seismic response

Theoretical and experimental study aimed at defineing a simplified model of "equivalent strut" to the panel, able to reproduce the response of the infilled frame beyond the elastic limit, and the analysis of local effects of the interaction frame-infill and their influence on the structural response; experimental tests on full scale single-storey infilled frames.

  • Seismic response of columns under eccentric compression

Theoretical and experimental investigation on R.C. compressed elements, designed to define analytically the ultimate conditions (curvature and bending moment) of reinforced rectangular cross-sections, compressed and subject to flexure; correlation between the values of bending moment under biaxial bending to the values deducted in simple flexure in the two principal planes of inertia; validation of the modeling deduced from tests on full scale specimens.

  • Strategies of reinforcement of low resistance columns

Theoretical and experimental study on the effectiveness of reinforcement by metal jacketing or wrapping with carbon fibers and mortar. Experimental verification of the adequacy of the models which describe the constitutive behavior of confined concrete and reinforcement, including the effect of buckling in the compressed bars.

  • Behavior of diffusive zones

Evolutionary strut-tie models for the evaluation of the response of deep cantilever beams and verification of the overstrength capacity. Experimental study on the influence of holes on beams and column, due to passages of piping system, core drilling for non-destructive strength tests, or representative of end-regions of prestressed elements.

Masonry structures

  • Mechanical properties of ordinary masonry

Theoretical and experimental study aimed at characterizing the masonry under centered or eccentric compression, and under shear. Masonry walls constituted by: blocks of limestone, brick masonry or brick lightweight concrete, bound together by mortar at low or medium strength. Compression tests in the direction parallel or perpendicular to the mortar joints, and diagonal compression tests on panels on a large scale.

  • Seismic response of ordinary masonry systems

Theoretical study aimed at evaluating the response of buildings depending on the variation of the geometry of the structure and the mechanical properties of materials.

  • Mechanical properties of reinforced masonry walls

Theoretical and experimental investigation on the strength of lightweight concrete wall panels and variously arranged reinforcement, subject to constant compression and lateral monotonically increasing or cyclic load.

  • Seismic vulnerability of hystorical-monumental buildings

Diagnostics and structural analysis on the vulnerability of historical and monumental buildings: from the knowledge to the modeling, project interventions of consolidation and / or reinforcement by traditional and innovative techniques.


Steel structures, composite structures and structural glass

  • Steel structures in seismic areas

Theoretical investigations on the following topics: stability of bracing in seismic frames, braced frames with eccentric diagonals; dual systems constituted by steel frames and reinforced concrete walls, seismic retrofit of structures through dissipative systems and / or isolators.

  • Hybrid steel trussed concrete beams

Theoretical and experimental investigation on composite trussed beams: local problems of stress transferring between the concrete and the steel members; specific problems in Phase I and Phase II; analytical and numerical models for the interpretation of the shear behavior and experimental validation; ductility of the beam-to-column connection; cyclic behavior of the joints.

  • Glass beams and columns

Study of the shape of the cross-section of beams and columns in laminated glass and its long-term effects of bonds. Monotonic loading tests on beams and columns with rectangular, T and cruciform cross section. Simplified models for the determination of the ultimate load of one-dimensional bearing elements, taking into account the effect of flexural and torsional-flexural buckling. Techniques for stiffening profiles, to give structural strength and ensure the correct overstrength to the glass-bonding system.

Problems related to bridge structures

  • Time dependent effects on concrete structures

Shrinkage and creep. Linear visco-elasticity. Modelling of the long-term behavior of structures with changes in the static scheme.

  • Methods of analysis of curved beams

Hamiltonian Structural Analysis Method: 3D curved beams. Beams on generalized elastic foundation. Thin-walled sections. Curved bridges.

  • Prestressed structures

Internal and external prestressing. Balanced prestressing. Funicular structures. Interaction domains of internal forces.


Seismic engineering problems

  • Dynamic identification

Formulation of "output-only" structural identification algorithms in the presence of environmental excitations, based on models which govern stochastic variables with known probability density.

  • Pseudo-dynamic approaches for the prediction of the structural response

Study of stability, accuracy and characteristic errors propagation in the numerical integration methods which are on the basis of pseudo-dynamic approaches for highly non-linear systems.

  • Devices for viscous and hysteretic dissipation

Design criteria for hysteretic and viscous fluid dissipation devices placed inside braces for framed structures or coupled to the walls of masonry structures


Research projects


  • Three-Years research project 2010-2013 DPC-ReLUIS (Departement of the Civil Protection –Network of University Laboratories of Seismic Engineering - RELUIS); Line 1.1.2 – Ordinary and Precast Reinforced Concrete Structures – sub task: 1) Influence of infills on the structural response; 2) Behaviour and reinforcement of beams and columns. Person in Charge Prof. M. Papia. Budget Euro 45.000
  • P.O. F.E.S.R. Sicilia 2007/2013 - Line - Project VESTRA – Structural elements in laminated glass for civil engineering applications. Research activity 2014-2015.
  • P.O. F.E.S.R. Sicilia 2007/2013 - Line – Research project - Wind Energy production with reduced environmental impact (P.E.R.IM.A.) - Research activity 2014-2015.
  • P.O. F.E.S.R. Sicilia 2007/2013 – Line (2010) – Project SLIM – Light structures for different applications comprised the emergencies. Leader partner Company Zetazoo based in Palermo – Project Partner: Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale, Aerospaziale – Università di Palermo, 2012. Budget Euro 400.000.
  • P.O. Italia Malta 2007/2013 – Constitution of an integrated cross-border system of civil protection including Italia and Malta – Leader Partner Regione Siciliana - Presidenza - Dipartimento della Protezione Civile – Project Partner Università di Palermo Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale, Aerospaziale, dei Materiali. Budget Euro 367.000.
  • Convention between the Regional Department of Civil Protection and the Center for the Study of the Historical Centres of the University of Palermo for the definition of the phase of knowledge of the “Torre Pisana” in the Norman Palace in Palermo for the evaluation of the seismic vulnerability (Convention of 19.11.2013).
  • Convention with the Hospital "Paolo Giaccone" in Palermo - Project of seismic upgrading of the Pavilion of Urology Hospital, 2010.
  • Evaluation of the capacity of the Justice Palace of Palermo – Buyer Provveditorato alle Opere Pubbliche di Palermo, 2013.
  • Study of the damage of the building in Palermo – via Libertà 203 - seat of some offices of the Regional Administration of Sicily - Buyer Sicilian Region, 2010.
  • Solutions for the covers for the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina – Buyer Sicilian Region, 2010.