The bacteria seals cracks and keeps out water and other damaging substances to prolong the life of the concrete.
Bacteria is being used to develop ‘self-healing’ concrete that would fill cracks in concrete buildings, allowing them to look after themselves. Researchers at Northumbria University led by Dr. Alan Richardson, a Senior Lecturer in Construction in the School of the Built and Natural Environment, are using a ground-borne bacteria called bacilli megaterium. This is grown on a nutrient broth of yeast, minerals and urea to create calcite, a crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate.
This can be added to concrete, where it breeds and spreads, sealing the concrete’s cracks and keeping out water and other damaging substances to prolong its life. This research has great commercial potential and could lead to a cost-effective cure for ‘concrete cancer’, which is estimated to cause billions of dollars worth of damage to buildings. Dr Richardson said:
This project is hugely exciting. The potential is there to have a building that can look after itself.