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Self-Healing Concrete

Concrete is used all over the world in a variety of applications. But after years of wear and tear, it can crack, crumble and look pretty ugly. Plus, repairs can be expensive and tricky to carry out. Whatcha gonna do, right? Well, what if the concrete had an in-house repair team? OK, we're listening. Scientists have discovered a way to inject the concrete with a bacteria called Bacillus. Bacillus can sit dormant in the concrete for up to 200 years, waiting patiently to clock in.

But how does it work? The tiny repair team is added to wet concrete along with calcium lactate - this is what the bacteria eats, as well as other chemicals.  However, they don’t start munching immediately - think of the calcium lactate as their ‘packed lunch’. When the concrete starts to crack, a catalyst - like water or heat - is added to ‘wake up’ the bacteria. As they eat, they produce limestone. The limestone fills the cracks and reinforces the structure. Bonus point: The Bacillus extends the life of reinforced concrete by consuming nearby oxygen, which corrodes steel. They’re bacillus-ly employees of the month, all year round, for 200 years.

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Image by Franck V.


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