Escrito por  2016-09-21

Pontes e viadutos que imitam natureza podem ser indestrutíveis

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A professora Wanda Lewis, da Universidade de Warwick, no Reino Unido, levou ao próximo nível um processo de design inspirado no mundo natural.

Um nível que promete nada menos que uma nova geração de pontes, viadutos e outras estruturas virtualmente indestrutíveis.

O processo de design é conhecido como "busca pela forma", ou "geração de forma" (form-finding). Ele permite a concepção de estruturas rígidas que seguem uma forma natural, ou seja, estruturas que são sustentadas por uma força pura de compressão ou tensão, sem tensões de flexão, que são os principais pontos de fraqueza nas estruturas feitas pelo homem.

Essa técnica poderá, pela primeira vez, viabilizar o projeto de pontes e edifícios que arquem com qualquer combinação de carga permanente sem gerar tensões complexas, o que lhes daria maior segurança e maior durabilidade.

Estruturas projetadas pela natureza

A estrutura de uma árvore ou mesmo de uma folha, a curvatura de uma concha, a forma como um filme de sabão se sustenta em grandes vãos, são todos exemplos de projetos naturais de grande eficiência e resistência.

A professora Lewis desenvolveu agora modelos matemáticos que analisam esses princípios da natureza e geram padrões de estresse simples para cada estrutura. Os princípios que sustentam os modelos matemáticos são ilustrados usando experimentos de "geração de forma" que envolvem peças de tecido ou correntes.

Um pedaço de tecido, por exemplo, é suspenso e então relaxa na sua forma natural de energia mínima, puxado apenas pela gravidade. Em seguida, sua forma final é congelada em um objeto rígido, e então invertido. Isto produz uma forma natural - gerada unicamente pela ação da gravidade - que pode suportar cargas com grande eficiência.

Estética arquitetônica

Talvez não saia ao gosto dos olhos dos arquitetos, mas as formas resultantes têm uma resistência que não encontra equivalentes nos conceitos de engenharia convencionais.

"A estética é um aspecto importante de qualquer projeto, e nós fomos programados para ver algumas formas, como arcos circulares ou cúpulas esféricas, como estéticas. Nós frequentemente as construímos independentemente do fato de que elas geram tensões complexas, e são, portanto, estruturalmente ineficientes," defende Lewis.


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