Concrete is a vital element in our world. It’s the fabric of countless buildings, sidewalks, bridges, dams, pipes, and much more. But, like everything, there’s a consequence for using so much concrete and making repairs when the material begins to crack from wear, tear, and pressure. It produces a big carbon footprint, affecting the air we breathe and ultimately the wildlife and overall atmosphere. So, scientists are developing technology to make concrete more durable with the ability to heal its scars like Wolverine.
As reported by NewAtlas, this self-repairing concrete uses an enzyme from the human body to make this happen. The carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzyme is found in our red blood cells, and transfers carbon dioxide from cells into the bloodstream. When used in this new concrete material, it will repair cracks before they become a structural nightmare, allowing CA to react with carbon dioxide in the air.
This combination will create calcium carbonate crystals, which will bridge small gaps naturally. After conducting several tests, researchers found that this process could be as quick as 24 hours. (This information appears in the Applied Materials Today journal.)
If it’s hard for you to imagine this in action, then you are in luck. A brief video clip shows this concrete doing its thing in water, healing a small chip in about six hours.
It’s a far quicker reaction than in similar previous materials that took nearly a month to do the same thing. This new self-healing concrete can lead to a structure having a much longer life, say 20 to 80 years. Anything that reduces the need to replace concrete is a win for the environment and its future. It could also be key in saving structures from having catastrophic failures due to massive cracks. A life-saving material in more ways than one, right?