Self-healing concrete seals its own cracks

A new form of concrete out of the Netherlands features limestone-producing bacteria.

Avoiding stepping on the cracks during casual sidewalk strolls might soon become a whole lot easier.

Researchers at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands have invented a new form of concrete that eliminates cracks by patching them up itself. The concrete mix contains bacteria that, when exposed to water, produces limestone, filling in any unwanted fissures.

The self-healing material contains granules of bacterial spores and calcium lactate, the nutrient the bacteria needs to survive. The spores lie dormant until they’re activated by rainwater that makes its way through the concrete’s cracks. Once the rainwater sets the mix in motion, the bacteria begins to feed on the nutrients to produce calcite, a primary component of limestone, subsequently filling in the concrete’s gaps.

The researchers have been able to heal cracks with a width of 0.5 mm in the lab and will soon begin testing their mix outside in real-life conditions. If all goes well, the regenerative concrete could be on the market in as soon as two to three years.

[via BBC, Discover]

Image, Video: Delft Technical University

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