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




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