Using Fungi For Self-Healing Concrete
Binghamton University in New York State is working on a self-healing concrete that uses fungus to heal damage.
As infrastructures like buildings, bridges and roads age they decay faster than they can be repaired and it is causing problems for civil engineers over the world. Governments are spending a lot of money trying to maintain public infrastructure.
Why Does Concrete Crack?
Concrete is not flexible and overtime expansion, contraction and other stressors cause it to crack. Without repairing them, they will continue to grow as time goes on. Cracks create pathways for water and moisture to work its way into reinforcement steel which causes corrosion reducing its performance.
Using Fungi To Repair Concrete
Repairing cracks as they appear would only be temporary as cracking concrete isn’t really preventable. Professor Congrui Jin wanted to emulate how the body repairs itself and apply that to concrete. Jin tried incorporating a fungus in the concrete mixture which remains dormant… until it is exposed to water & oxygen (from a crack). With enough water and O2, the fungi create calcium carbonate which fills the cracks preventing further exposure and damage.
Research Challenges and Future Development of Self Healing Concrete
The research is in the early stages and the biggest challenge Jin faces are creating a fungus that is robust enough to survive in the concrete. With concrete being the cheapest and most abundant building materials for infrastructure and civil engineering this type of innovation could be a game-changer when it comes to the life span and durability of concrete. Once the research is completed its only a matter of time before the technology becomes cheap enough to use in commercial and residential applications too!
Read the full article here.