A new collaborative project between researchers at Bath, Cardiff and Cambridge Universities aims to develop a concrete mix containing microcapsules of bacteria which, when water enters cracks in the concrete, causes the bacteria in the microcapsules to germinate to produce limestone.
The growth of the limestone causes the hole to be plugged, therefore preventing more water and oxygen from entering the structure to protect the internal metal reinforcement from corrosion.
The result would be a self-healing concrete that uses an inbuilt ‘immune system’ to close its own ‘wounds’. This could reduce the lifetime cost of repairs to the structure by 50%, and in doing so reduce the environmental impact of CO2 emissions released during cement production. It is estimated that over 7% of the worlds CO2 emissons are caused by cement production so this could have a significant positive environmental effect.