9 May 2012
‘Self-healing’ concrete is being developed by researchers at CIAT-Accredited
Northumbria University which could see cracks in concrete buildings become a thing of the past.
Dr Alan Richardson, a Senior Lecturer in Construction in the School of the Built
and Natural Environment, is using a ground-borne bacteria – bacilli megaterium - to create calcite, a
crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate. This can then be used to block the concrete’s pores, keeping out
water and other damaging substances to prolong the life of the concrete.
The bacteria is grown on a nutrient broth of yeast, minerals and urea and is
then added to the concrete. With its food source in the concrete, the bacteria breeds and spreads, acting as a
filler to seal the cracks and prevent further deterioration.
It is hoped the research could lead to a cost-effective cure for ‘concrete
cancer’ and has enormous commercial potential.
While further research is needed, Dr Richardson is hopeful that the repair
mortar will also be effective on existing structures.
Dr Richardson said: 'This project is hugely exciting. The potential is there to
have a building that can look after itself.'