A special bacteria is being used to heal the most common building material in the world.
The fact that concrete is far from a perfect material is common knowledge; if it was anywhere close to perfect, we wouldn’t see so much traffic-halting construction everywhere. Concrete is the best we’ve got for now, so we’ve gotta find a way to make it work.
Microbiologist Henk Jonkers from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands has shown that when you add calcium carbonate to the typical concrete mixture, it equips that concrete with astounding self healing properties. Once the concrete has been lain, the special bacteria lays in waiting for months and potentially years until the concrete cracks and water beings to seep through. When the water interacts with the calcium carbonate, limestone is formed and fills in the cracks naturally, saving huge sums of money on foundation or crack repairs.
Jonkers said of the research, “In the lab we have been able to show healing of cracks with a width of 0.5mm. 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.”
Jonkers and his partner have already opened discussions with potential commercial partners. It could be a couple of years before the technology is implemented in the world, but once perfected, will be gladly greeted by companies and governments the world over.
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