One of the most important materials used on the construction site is concrete, however it does have its drawbacks. It’s not weatherproof, it cracks, it lets water soak in and it gets holes. However, Scientists believe they have found the cure to all these problems. They are on the cusp of creating self-healing concrete.
They have created this concrete based on the concept of bio-mineralisation. This is the process in which living organisms can produce minerals. These minerals then repair and cover building cracks, reducing the costs and time repairing buildings. These minerals are created by a bacteria that produces calcium carbonate, similar to limestone which can naturally fill cracks or holes.
However, this is not a new idea. Previous studies have found that this is possible, however, once the bacteria dies the concrete stops the self-healing process. This is usually after a year of repairs.
Some scientists are taking a more chemical approach by mixing methacryloxypropyl-terminated polydimethylsiloxane and benzoin isobutyl in the presence of sunlight. This mixture creates a protective waterproof polymer that sticks to concrete. This transfers into capsule form and is released on the concrete as it cracks. This has been proven to work as concrete without the capsule soakes up 11.3 grams of water while the capsuled concrete is consumed 0.4 grams.
But why does it matter? Governments spend billions of dollars every year repairing buildings, bridges and overpasses. This simple innovation could save tax payer dollars but also make our structures safer.