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Self-healing Concrete?

What’s next, self-sealing housewrap? Well, maybe….

According to a recent article in New Scientist, concrete will soon be able to heal its own hairline fractures. Yes, you read that right.

As we all know, water can be the enemy of concrete. It seeps into those tiny cracks and wreaks havoc. But thanks to a helpful little bacteria, the days of concrete spider webs could be over. Just add the bacteria and a calcium lactate “food” to your mix, and you’re good to go. When water seeps into cracks, the bacteria uses the water and the “food” to create calcite, a natural cement.

“[T]he bacteria can take on a dormant spore state for long periods—up to 50 years—without food or water.

Only when tiny cracks form in the concrete…and water seeps inside will the bacteria activate and begin to consume the food that has also been freed. As they feed, they combine the calcium with oxygen and carbon dioxide to form calcite—essentially pure limestone.”

The article doesn’t mention when, exactly, this new concrete would be available, but it could be only a few years away.

Now, if only we could invent….


7 Responses to “Self-healing Concrete?”

  1. Rob Johnson

    Now, if only we could invent….

    Ummm! Trees that grow into door and window products, just harvest them off the tree and fit! Seriously, the advances in technology never cease to surprise me especially when applied to building products where they are less expected than say computer technology.
    Some of those science guys really think way outside the box.Thankfully.
    Regards Rob.

  2. trimcat

    very interesting, actually amazing if it will work and change concrete. theres nothing i find more irratating than homeowners calling freaking out about a hairline crack in the slab we poured 8 months ago. you try to explain to them thats what concrete does…..

    now just if spike tv could go 5 hours without showing either a star wars movie or reruns of ufc

  3. Moose

    It would be great if this could be injected into cracks already formed in old concrete

  4. Sim Ayers

    I was just talking to a home owner that had their stucco replaced 2 times, because of hair line spider cracks. I wonder if this product could be added to the stucco mix.

  5. Concrete Additives

    I dont see why not, even back in the times of the Egyptians and Romans additives were used to change the consistency of Concrete and get it to function in a way standard concrete does not.

    An example is that volcanic ash was added by the Egyptians so concrete would set under water!

  6. Gerry Anderson

    Whilst this novel approach seems interesting, I wonder why you would not use well tried existing waterpoofing products for concrete. I have worked on construction of water retaining structures both in Canada and in Europe and for years we have been using proprietory products such as Xypex (no affiliation by the way) to solve the problem of microcracking. These products are painted on the wet face of the concrete (inside face of water retaining structure or dirt face of a retaining wall). They do not stop the concrete fracturing, however once the concrete has cracked the salts in the product are leached into the crack where they precipitate forming a crystalline seal. I have witnessed newly constructed reservoirs that have weeped pretty significantly in the first few weeks after charging become completely watertight within a few weeks where this type of product has been used. So to conclude, I really dont see what new idea this approach provides.

    • Gary Katz

      Seemed new to us! And to the author who wrote the article. But then, whilst you seem more informed on the subject, and we apparently aren’t, we’ll have to accept our opinion! :0)


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