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Self-repairing concrete?

Published at: 20 October 2016

Dutch reseachers are working on new technology that could change the way we use one of mankind’s oldest construction materials

Leakage, as any engineer will tell you, is one of concrete’s most limiting factors. Not only is it unsightly but it leads to serious structural damage that can make or break a project. So concrete needs to evolve to stay useful and new developments by global research teams are looking to nature for a new solution to one of the material’s oldest problems.

Living bacteria could be the solution, a team of researchers at a Dutch university say, but not just any bacteria. “You need bacteria that can survive the harsh environment of concrete,” says the project’s lead scientist Henk Jonkers to CNN. “It’s a rock-like, stone-like material, very dry.” He says.

Jonkers’ team discovered that bacillus bacteria, which feeds on calcite lactate –found abundantly in concrete - could create the “living concrete” they were looking for. The bacterium’s digestion causes a chemical reaction that creates limestone, which then fills in the gaps.

The project is busy being tested in the Netherlands and could set a major precedent for the way concrete is used in the future. Who knows, maybe the next generation of buildings could fix the way we live before we do?

Read the full story on CNN

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