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Bioengineered Concrete - A Sustainable Self-Healing Construction Material

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, JNTUH College of Engineering Hyderabad, INDIA

Res. J. Engineering Sci., Volume 2, Issue (6), Pages 45-51, June,26 (2013)

Abstract

It is a well known fact that concrete structures are very susceptible to cracking which allows chemicals and water to enter and degrade the concrete, reducing the performance of the structure and also requires expensive maintenance in the form of repairs. Cracking in the surface layer of concrete mainly reduces its durability, since cracks are responsible for the transport of liquids and gasses that could potentially contain deleterious substances. When microcracks growth reaches the reinforcement, not only the concrete itself may be damaged, but also corrosion occurs in the reinforcement due to exposure to water and oxygen, and possibly CO and chlorides too. Micro-cracks are therefore the main cause to structural failure. One way to circumvent costly manual maintenance and repair is to incorporate an autonomous self -healing mechanism in concrete. One such an alternative repair mechanism is currently being studied, i.e. a novel technique based on the application of biominerilization of bacteria in concrete. The applicability of specifically calcite mineral precipitating bacteria for concrete repair and plugging of pores and cracks in concrete has been recently investigated and studies on the possibility of using specific bacteria as a sustainable and concrete -embedded self healing agent was studied and results from ongoing studies are discussed. Synthetic polymers such as epoxy treatment etc are currently being used for repair of concrete are harmful to the environment, hence the use of a biological repair technique in concrete is focused. In the present paper, an attempt is made to incorporate dormant but viable bacteria in the concrete matrix which will contribute to the strength and durability of the concrete. Water which enters the concrete will activate the dormant bacteria which in turn will give strength to the concrete through the process of metabolically mediated calcium carbonate precipitation. Concrete, due to its high internal pH, relative dryness and lack of nutrients needed for growth, is a rather hostile environment for common bacteria, but there are some extremophilic spore forming bacteria may be able to survive in this environment and increase the strength and durability of cement concrete. Overview of development of bioengineered concrete using bacterial strain Bacillus subtilis JC3 and its enhanced mechanical and durability characteristics will be briefly described in this paper.

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