An experimental new concrete, which is able to self-repair, is to have a series of outdoor tests ahead of an expected launch onto the market.
The new product, which is integrated with bacterial spores and nutrients capable of producing limestone, could revolutionise many forms of concrete flooring.
The bacteria, activated by liquids such as rainwater integrating the concrete, has been developed in the Netherlands. A joint venture between a concrete technologist, Eric Schlangen, and a microbiologist, Henk Jonkers, it could be commercialised within as a little as two years.
In normal mixes of concrete, water and chemicals penetrate small ‘microcracks’. Though the professional hardening tolerances allow for cracks with a width of 0.2mm, over time, the liquid corrodes the structure and weakens it.
By repairing these small fissures, concrete flooring could last significantly longer. Speaking about his new creation, Jonkers said:
“For durability reasons – in order to improve the service life of the construction – it is important to get these micro-cracks healed.”
Going on to say that under laboratory conditions cracks of up to 0.5mm have been ‘healed’, outdoor tests will confirm whether the concept can be replicated with natural rainwater. Jonkers continued:
“We have to produce the self-healing agent in huge quantities and we are starting to do outdoor tests, looking at different constructions, different types of concrete to see if this concept really works in practice.”
Naturally corrosive, if proven to be effective, it could offer industrial concrete floors greater longevity, resulting in huge cost savings across many sectors.
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