Self-Healing or “Living” Concrete

The bio-concrete healing itself (Image Courtesy of Delft University)

Imagine if a crack in the pavement miraculously “healed” itself? Prof. Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands spent seven years developing the technology. A pilot program is in place in Ecuador. Last December, researchers assisted farmers with the installation of bio-concrete irrigation canals. The goal is to perfect the technology and expand its use around the globe.

The Technology

  • Bacteria-based solution to fix small cracks; also called bio-concrete
  • Pilot project in Ecuador: built irrigation canals
  • Concrete still most widely used building material due to strength and durability

Crack1

Crack2

Crack3

The Sustainability Problem

  • Cracks in concrete/asphalt lead to leaks and weakened structures
  • Necessitates use of more concrete to repair cracks
  • Concrete has extremely harmful environmental impacts
  • Next to coal-powered electricity, cement manufacture is the next biggest emitter of GHGs
  • Cement manufacture accounts for nearly 5% of annual anthropogenic global CO2
  • Requires intense heating process which is fueled by burning fossil fuels and also breaks down calcium carbonate
  • Every ton of cement produces a ton of CO2
  • Self-healing concrete is a green solution; reduces need for frequent repair/replacement

The Technology Stakeholders

  • Builders and architects
  • Cement and concrete manufactures
  • Real estate project developers
  • Farmers and growers
  • Consumers

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Identify locations with greatest need
  • Monitor results and refine formula if necessary
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices

Video: Pilot project in Ecuador

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2 thoughts on “Self-Healing or “Living” Concrete

  1. This is a great idea. Innovations such as this are severely needed to repair many of the world’s crumbling pieces of infrastructure. Self-healing concrete would be especially efficient in areas that have exposure to extreme cold in the winters in which case they experience greater breakage due to the effects of the ice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This technology was developed as a way to prevent water leakage from Ecuador’s irrigation canals and to thus prevent failed crop harvest. Given the incredibly harmful environmental impact of concrete this is a really exciting technology that I hope becomes much more widely used.

    Liked by 1 person

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