Nature

This Bacteria-Infused Concrete Can Repair Its Own Cracks

Have you ever been walking along, minding your own beeswax, when suddenly you trip and fall because of a crack in the sidewalk? That may no longer be a problem thanks to researchers at Delft Technical University who have uncovered an innovate solution to the problem. Microbiologist Henk Jonkers and technologist Eric Schlangen joined forces to create a type of "bio-concrete" with limestone-producing bacteria built in. Now when the concrete gets holes and cracks in it, it can patch itself up.

“For durability reasons – in order to improve the service life of the construction – it is important to get these micro-cracks healed,” Dr. Jonkers told BBC News.

The researchers used corrosive rainwater and added alkaliphilic bacteria and a calcium-based feed to the concrete mix. When activated by water, the bacteria consumes the feed, as well as oxygen and carbon dioxide, which forms limestone. This patches up any cracks that may have formed.

Lab tests so far are showing this method to be ten times more effective than similar methods.

“Now we are upscaling. We have to produce the self-healing agent in huge quantities and we are starting to do outdoor tests, looking at different constructions, different types of concrete to see if this concept really works in practice,” Dr. Jonkers explained.

The name of the game now is working on improving the system and bringing down the costs. They think the improved system will be ready in six months and will hit the market within 4 years.

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