The Secret to Super Strong Concrete Is... Bacteria? | Summary and Q&A

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May 21, 2019
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The Secret to Super Strong Concrete Is... Bacteria?

TL;DR

Bacteria that excrete calcite, a mineral that makes up concrete, can be used to fill in cracks and repair concrete structures, reducing the need for maintenance and costly repairs.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How do bacteria help in the self-healing process of concrete?

Bacteria excrete calcite, a mineral that can bond to concrete, when cracks form. This calcite fills in the cracks and restores the strength of the concrete.

Q: Why is self-healing concrete beneficial?

Self-healing concrete reduces the need for expensive and inconvenient maintenance, especially in hazardous environments or structures like radioactive waste storage chambers. It also helps reduce carbon emissions by avoiding the need for replacing or reinforcing structures with more concrete.

Q: Are there any limitations to the use of bacteria in concrete repair?

Currently, self-healing concrete is expensive, making it impractical for widespread use. However, researchers are exploring ways to make it more cost-effective, such as using alternative and cheaper food sources for the bacteria.

Q: How effective is self-healing concrete in repairing cracks?

Assorted studies have shown that bacteria can restore over ninety percent of a concrete structure's strength through the self-healing process.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Concrete, the second most widely used substance on Earth, often develops cracks that can expand and damage structures.

  • Certain species of bacteria have been found that excrete calcite, a mineral that can bond with concrete and fill in cracks.

  • These bacteria can be placed in concrete in biodegradable plastic bubbles or clay pellets, and when cracks form, water seeps in, wakes up the bacteria, and triggers the production of calcite to repair the concrete.

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