Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK are using bacteria and a nutrient-rich broth of yeast, minerals and urea to create self-healing concrete.
The broth creates calcite, a crystalline form of natural carbonate. This mixture can be added to concrete, where it breeds – sealing cracks and prolonging the material’s life. This technology could lead to a cost-effective cure for ‘concrete cancer’ (the deterioration of concrete caused by factors such as contaminants and the weather), which is thought to cost billions of pounds worth of damage to buildings.
The team is led by Alan Richardson, a construction lecturer at the university’s School of the Built and Natural Environment. “The potential is there to have a building that can look after itself,” he says.
For more examples of innovative concrete applications, see Green Concrete.