With the potential to impact heavily on the construction industry a self healing bio concrete has been developed by Henk Jonkers, a researcher in the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Its estimated that concrete repairs are worth 3% of the construction industry, the contribution of which in 2014 was valued at £103 Billion in economic output. This helps put a scale on the potential of this material development.
So what makes this a bio concrete: a so-called alkaliphilic bacteria that are calcite precipitating are embedded within the concrete along with a viable food source so that upon exposure to water they excrete a mineral that helps to prevent erosion of the concrete and critically protecting the rust prone steel reinforcement within.
This development could not only reduce the requirement for repair, but to help make it commercially viable, it allows structural engineers to avoid having to use larger quantities of steel reinforcement, a typical practice to prevent cracks becoming so large as to cause significant risk.