This Futuristic Concrete Heals Itself with Built-In Bacteria

Jun 2, 2015

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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6 comments on “This Futuristic Concrete Heals Itself with Built-In Bacteria

  • @OP – But concrete that heals itself is inching closer and closer toward reality.

    It is an interesting throw-back, that before concrete and cement was as widely used, lime and sand mortar does in fact heal itself by chemical and physical processes, when stone or brickwork settles.

    http://heronjournal.nl/56-12/5.pdf
    Lime mortars have, up to a certain extent, a self-healing capacity which may contribute to their durability. Self-healing in lime mortars consists of a process of dissolution, transport and re-precipitation of calcium compounds to heal cracks and fissures.



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  • It is quite important to seal cracks in concrete, even if it does not add support to the structure, because if water and corrosion get at the steel reinforcing bars, the expanding rust explodes the concrete from the inside.



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