Clemson alumnus 'nails' top innovation honor

December 12, 2006

CLEMSON -- Clemson University civil engineering alumnus Ed Sutt, a fastening engineer with Bostitch, has designed a nail that could save thousands of lives and homes in the event of a hurricane or earthquake. For that, "Popular Science" magazine has named the HurriQuake nail its 2006 Innovation of the Year, beating out 100 new technologies from around the world. (See December issue: http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2006/innovator_5.html.)

Sutt, an alumnus of Clemson's civil engineering graduate program, receiving both his master's and Ph.D. degrees, took notice of a hurricane's devastating effects when, as a student, he visited the Caribbean following Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.

"I couldn't help but notice it was the fasteners that failed in house after house after house, not the wood," said Sutt. "It occurred to me that breaks were occurring around the fastener or nail, so we needed to come up with a better fastener to hold the house together."

Because nail design has not changed much in the last 200 years, Sutt went to work creating a prototype that would: The HurriQuake nail is made of carbon-steel alloy and adds about $15 to the cost of a house. Its design took six years to perfect, with the bottom section of the nail having angled barbs that resist pulling out in wind gusts of up to 170 mph. The shank at the top of the nail is twisted to keep boards from wobbling and weakening a joint. The head of the nail is up to 25 percent larger than average to resist sinking into wood or pulling through.

Civil engineering professor Scott Schiff, one of Sutt's former instructors, conducted independent testing on the nail for Popular Science at the Clemson University Wind Load Test Facility.

"I was amazed at the resistance the nail puts up. In one test on the HurriQuake 2 (a thicker version of the original nail), with 20,000 pounds of load on an 8-foot shear wall mimicking what a house goes through in the course of several storms or an earthquake, the nail held. Normally that's what would give first," says Schiff. "This potentially could make a huge difference on insurance premiums and housing codes."

Hurricane and earthquake damage in the United States in the last 15 years is in the billions of dollars.

Other independent testing around the country showed the HurriQuake has up to twice the uplift capacity of standard nails, which includes the nail shank's withdrawal from framing and the nail head's pull through the sheathing, the nail can double a house's resistance in high winds and can provide up to 50 percent more resistance to earthquake-type forces.
-end-
The nail is available only in the coastal region from Texas to North Carolina at construction supply stores. Bostitch is adding new production lines to meet nationwide consumer demand. Bostitch (www.bostitch.com), headquartered in East Greenwich, R.I. is a subsidiary of The Stanley Works, a leading manufacturer of tools.

Clemson's civil engineering department is ranked 48th among the nation's 50 best graduate programs in the discipline, according to the 2007 edition of U.S.News & World Report's guidebook of graduate programs. Each program was ranked against similar programs at all national doctoral-granting universities, public or private.

Editor's Note: Digital photographs of Sutt and the HurriQuake nail are available online. To download the photographs, go to http://clemsonews.clemson.edu/WWW_releases/2006/November/Image_pages/HurriQuake_nail.html

Clemson University

Related Earthquake Articles from Brightsurf:

Healthcare's earthquake: Lessons from COVID-19
Leaders and clinician researchers from Beth Israel Lahey Health propose using complexity science to identify strategies that healthcare organizations can use to respond better to the ongoing pandemic and to anticipate future challenges to healthcare delivery.

Earthquake lightning: Mysterious luminescence phenomena
Photoemission induced by rock fracturing can occur as a result of landslides associated with earthquakes.

How earthquake swarms arise
A new fault simulator maps out how interactions between pressure, friction and fluids rising through a fault zone can lead to slow-motion quakes and seismic swarms.

Typhoon changed earthquake patterns
Intensive erosion can temporarily change the earthquake activity (seismicity) of a region significantly.

Cause of abnormal groundwater rise after large earthquake
Abnormal rises in groundwater levels after large earthquakes has been observed all over the world, but the cause has remained unknown due to a lack of comparative data before & after earthquakes.

New clues to deep earthquake mystery
A new understanding of our planet's deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth.

Fracking and earthquake risk
Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing can damage property and endanger lives.

Earthquake symmetry
A recent study investigated around 100,000 localized seismic events to search for patterns in the data.

Crowdsourcing speeds up earthquake monitoring
Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes.

Geophysics: A surprising, cascading earthquake
The Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand in 2016 caused widespread damage.

Read More: Earthquake News and Earthquake Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.