by Mary Beth Griggs
Concrete has been a go-to building material since Roman times. It’s durable, easy to make, and relatively inexpensive. There’s just one problem: It has a tendency to crack.
There are a lot of different reasons that concrete cracks, but in general, it gets stressed either from the load its carrying, the weather, or other natural forces, and it fractures under the pressure. Regardless, cracked concrete is never something you want to see in a building, bridge, or street. At best, it’s something you want to avoid stepping on (for your mother’s sake), and at worst, it’s a sign of a structural defect that could lead to big problems–and huge repair bills–down the road.
But concrete that heals itself is inching closer and closer toward reality. Henk Jonkers, a microbiologist at Delft University of Technology, is working on a concrete with built-in bacteria that can fill in cracks as they form.
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