Omar Chaallal: Keeping the Old with the New

Almost half of Québec’s built heritage requires renovation. Omar Chaallal, a professor in ÉTS’s Department of Construction Engineering, is a world-renowned specialist in this field who works on major rehabilitation projects. He is particularly interested in the use of composite materials.

Areas of Research and Application in the Field of Construction

Professor Chaallal, who specializes in reinforced concrete structures, composite materials, seismic engineering and soil-structure interaction, works on rehabilitation, reinforcement and seismic compliance of existing structures. Deteriorating infrastructures affect Quebec and, indeed, the entire western world, so there is no lack of rehabilitation projects.

In the majority of cases, the infrastructure’s life is extended through targeted rehabilitation. The intervention process comprises three steps: assessment (identifying the damage), diagnosis (determining the cause and the solution) and methodology (developing a rehabilitation plan that takes all technical and socio-economic constraints into account).

Rehabilitation and Composite Materials

Until recently, concrete has been the preferred material among engineers, but more and more, they are turning toward composite materials. Since composite materials are inconspicuous, they don’t disfigure the structure. However, using these materials is not simple because not as much is known about them, such as how they will react in specific situations, due to their recent appearance on the scene.

Researchers’ work consists of conducting extensive laboratory tests aimed at determining how these materials will perform in a given situation. Researchers measure the properties of rehabilitated materials and structures and predict how they will react under actual operating conditions.

Professor Chaallal’s Research Work at ÉTS

The research group led by Professor Chaallal is among the world leaders in rehabilitating structures that are deficient in terms of shearing force (which are often characterized by diagonal cracking) using composite materials.

The group has developed a method that is recognized around the globe called the “Embedded Through-Section” (ETS) method. Professor Chaallal has also worked on the seismic retrofitting of tall structures and bridges, taking the interaction between the soil and the structure into account.