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Microscopic Bacteria Bring Concrete to Life

Jack_Benoit MA, United States 0 Ratings 1 Discussions 0 Group posts

Posted by: Jack_Benoit // Civil Engineering Student

More and more often, engineers find themselves turning to the natural world for inspiration. By handpicking key properties from the planet’s biodiversity, scientists are able to create designs that are lighter, stronger, and more energy efficient.

One such innovator is the Dutch scientist Henk Jonkers. Jonkers has invented a concrete mixture that, using the properties of the bacillus bacteria, is able to heal itself over time. This bacteria is commonly found near volcanoes, and can easily survive the harsh conditions concrete is subjected to. The bacteria lie dormant in the concrete until they are activated by water, which seeps in through microscopic cracks in the structure caused by stress and shrinkage. Once activated, the bacteria begin producing limestone as a waste product, which seals the cracks and prevents further weakening of the concrete.

Jonkers is developing this technology to be used in new concrete mixtures, and has even developed a spray that could be used to introduce the bacteria to existing buildings. By preventing the miniscule cracks from growing in size, the self-healing concrete could provide immense savings on both time and materials.

For more information on Jonkers’ “Living Concrete”:

Stewart, Andrew. "The 'living Concrete' That Can Heal Itself." CNN. Cable News Network, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. 08 June 2016.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/14/tech/bioconcrete-delft-jonkers/

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