What’s Up with Self-Healing Concrete?

According to PCA, the United States uses more than 76 million metric tons of concrete every year. Concrete is essential for numerous construction projects, from roads and bridges to homes and office buildings. It’s one of the most diverse materials in the world — and one of the strongest.

Now, it’s getting an upgrade. Self-healing concrete is arriving on the scene this year and it offers intriguing possibilities for contractors.

Bacteria Allows Concrete to Heal Itself

Self-healing concrete

Concrete serves as the most-used construction material in the world.

Over time, fissures in concrete widen and deepen, sometimes leading to failures depending on the stress placed on the structure. Self-healing concrete attempts to minimize that hazard, and its key ingredients are a bacteria that can produce limestone and calcium lactate.

According to the Smithsonian, cracks in concrete introduce moisture and oxygen. This activates the bacteria in the self-healing concrete, which will produce limestone within the cracks. Over time, those fissures will seal over, leaving the concrete surface structurally sound.

The Smithsonian reports that the self-healing concrete’s inventor, microbiologist Henk Jonkers, has tested his creation on a lifeguard stand. The harsh environment — sand, salt water, rain, and wind — offer the perfect storm for evaluating the biocement’s effectiveness in the long term. Since 2011, the lifeguard station has not lost its ability to seal out water.

Self-Healing Concrete Will Add to Construction Costs

When self-healing concrete hits the market this year, it will cost up to $44 per square meter. This means that the average contractor won’t want to use it for his or her projects. It’s just too cost-prohibitive for the moment.

Just like other inventions, however, the price will gradually come down as long as it continues to prove its efficacy. Furthermore, Jonkers isn’t the only innovator in the biocement business. The Smithsonian reports that other manufacturers are experimenting with different recipes to find other ways to create this model invention.

Obstacles Still Abound

With no long-term research, it’s impossible to know how self-healing concrete will fare down the road. Jonkers and other experts in this field admit that they don’t know the ideal combination of concrete, bacteria, and calcium lactate. Extended research is necessary to demonstrate the material’s effectiveness.

It might have trouble protecting a structure against aggressive agents that might weaken the concrete too quickly for the bacteria to work its magic. However, self-healing concrete still has the potential to save contractors and developers money.

When buildings and other structures last longer and require less maintenance, their total cost of ownership decreases. They become more valuable on the open market, as well. It will be interesting to see how this invention changes the construction landscape, especially after Jonkers and other professionals decide how to scale its production.

Learning about new innovations, inventions, and strategies can help you make your business more valuable. In addition to researching creations like self-healing concrete, stay on top of your continuing education courses. Start your course now to complete your classes quickly and conveniently online so you don’t have to work them into your busy schedule.

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