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Walls That Self-Repair… No, Self-Heal


Two researchers from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands have developed a type of concrete that heals itself. We use this verb deliberately: “to heal” is used to describe a repair process in a living organism. The verb is to the point. Henk Jonkers and Eric Schlangen, the inventors of this construction material – the most widely used in the world – have mustered the aid of bacteria to introduce the regenerative properties into the concrete. For all its advantages, concrete is prone to cracks. Jonkers and Schlangen addressed this problem with a simple proposition, as most great ideas are at heart. The bacteria – of a harmless type – remain dormant. But water leaks trigger the bacteria’s activity. They don’t do it, however, out of a sense of duty. Rewards motivate them. The researchers introduced calcium lactate into the mix of the BioConcrete, the name they gave their product. Put simply, the bacteria will work for milk, healing the wall in the process. And as we said in the beginning, these are not walls that repair themselves. They heal themselves. Because these walls will no longer be inanimate things. It’s a new world, or much newer than anything we knew before.

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