Could self-healing concrete become a reality?

24 January 2018
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Cracking concrete could be a thing of the past thanks to researchers at Binghamton University in New York who have begun developing a self-healing concrete.

The researchers have found that mixing a fungus called Trichoderma reesei with concrete results in the fungal spores growing to heal cracks. The fungus originally lies dormant but when cracking occurs, water and oxygen appear and this causes the fungus to germinate.

“When the cracks are completely filled and ultimately no more water or oxygen can enter inside, the fungi will again form spores. As the environmental conditions become favourable in later stages, the spores could be wakened again,” says Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin.

The research is still in the early stages and the researchers are unsure about how the fungus will survive long-term in the harsh environment of concrete but Congrui says further adjustments could lead to a concrete product that repairs itself.  

“There are still significant challenges to bring an efficient self-healing product to the concrete market. In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance,” says Congrui. 


Assistant professor Congrui Jin (center) with two Binghamton University graduate students from the Mechanical Engineering Department. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

 

As the editor of BUILD I have a keen interest in sustainable housing and new technologies.

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