Self-Healing Concrete


Concrete was able to revolutionize architecture allowing us to build bigger, taller, stronger, and spark countless other innovations in building. Concrete has been used from 700 BC, and is now the most used material by humans. It has been used in structures like the Pantheon and the Hoover Dam. The problem is that without maintenance these great structures would all fail. Hendrik Jonker a Dutch microbiologist may have the solution to the biggest problem with concrete.

Concrete has an influential past but also has a bright future dealing with some of concretes biggest problems. No matter the mixture concrete will always eventually crack and fall apart. Jonker was able to develop a way for concrete to heal itself. This is accomplished with the help of bacteria, which when “activated” create lime which repairs the concrete. The bacteria is activated when the concrete fractures and allows water into the gap. Water then hits the embedded capsules which contain the bacteria and their nutrients. When the bacteria begins to feed it creates lime which fills the gap and repairs any fractures. This process has been proven to work, but the drawback is with the price. This is mainly due to the price of calcium lactate, the food source for the bacteria. Jonker believes that this high cost can be drastically reduced if he can get the bacteria to feed on a sugar based food source.

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