Self-healing "living" and durable concrete

Posted on 28 Feb 2020

In one of our previous articles, we already discussed how bacteria can replace cement in the production of concrete. American researcher Wil Srubar goes a step further and adds cyanobacteria to his concrete mixture so that the concrete can repair itself and continue to grow.


Wil Srubar is affiliated with Colorado University Boulder, where he examines the role bacteria can play in the production of concrete. To make concrete production more sustainable, Srubar adds large amounts of cyanobacteria to the mixture of sand and gelatin. The bacteria belong to the genus Synechococcus and produce calcium carbonate with carbon dioxide. This living concrete also ensures that it can continue to "grow". As long as sufficient sand and gelatin are added, the colonies of bacteria grow at higher temperatures. This allows the concrete to "repair" itself. The concrete can only be used if it is strong. That is the case when it is completely dry.

With some caution

The innovation that Srubar is working on can be a potentially sustainable form of concrete production. Still, not everyone is as convinced as Srubar himself. “This limestone is much less sturdy than concrete. Any claims made about the strength of bacteria-made concrete should be read with some caution, ”said Professor Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology. According to Schlangen, the claims by Srubar that the concrete is luminous or that these bacteria can be used to produce concrete on Mars are also premature. But the Netherlands is also investigating how bacteria can replace cement in concrete.


Source: New Scientist

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