“The problem with cracks in concrete is leakage. If you have cracks, water comes through — in your basements, in a parking garage. Secondly, if this water gets to the steel reinforcements — in concrete we have all these steel rebars — if they corrode, the structure collapses.” – Professor Henk Jonkers, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
Concrete repair products is a subject we know a lot about! We’ve seen first hand the problems that slow-building cracks can create. But what if damaged concrete could heal itself? That’s exactly what Professor Henk Jonkers is working towards with his work into bioconcrete — concrete that heals itself using bacteria.
Jonkers was inspired by the human body in his work, which works by adding a limestone-producing bacteria agent to the concrete mix. As air is let in through cracks and damage to the concrete, the bacteria is activated and begins producing limestone and patching out the cracks.”You need bacteria that can survive the harsh environment of concrete. It’s a rock-like, stone-like material, very dry,” says Professor Jonkers.
This process could play a pivotal role during construction, when small imperceptible cracks form as concrete is laid. By self-patching immediately, this bioconcrete could prevent long term damage. You can see some of the self-healing concrete at work below.
To date, bioconcrete has only been able to heal cracks up to a very slim 0.8 mm wide in about three weeks, but it can also be sprayed in cracks of regular concrete to use its mending powers. It will certainly be interesting to hear what the future holds for bioconcrete, and if its European Inventor Award finalist nomination is any indication, we’ll be hearing much more soon!
It’s this ingenuity and forward-thinking approach to finding new unexplored solutions to potentially long-term and expensive problems why we have named Professor Henk Jonkers our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We look forward to hearing more of his work in bioconcrete in the future!
Note: Henk Jonkers does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.