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What is self-healing concrete?

May 25, 2016

When we first looked at the innovative creation of self-healing concrete over a year ago, it was still being developed by Bath University. There has since been significant progress with the concrete substance that, essentially, heals itself. So in this month’s article we’ve looked at the recent developments.

What actually is self-healing concrete?

Self-healing concrete tackles the problem standard concrete has in that it can be vulnerable to cracking, which can quickly lead to major damage in need of costly repairs. The concept focuses on using substances that can change shape when a reaction is triggered – for example, when mixed with water, or the pressure created when cracks form – and therefore can heal or lessen the damage caused when cracks do occur on the concrete’s surface.


Self Healing Concrete

The UK’s first trial of self-healing concrete took place last October, taking the design from concept into reality. Undertaken at a site in the South Wales Valleys, the project is using three different methods to test the concrete’s success in real-world settings:

  • The first method is using shape-shifting materials which transform into a different shape to repair large cracks in concrete – researchers believe that this method will allow them to embed the polymers in the concrete and use them to close cracks that have appeared.
  • The second technique uses organic and inorganic healing agents, pumped through a network of tunnels in the concrete.
  • Finally, the third technique uses tiny capsules containing bacteria and healing agents into the concrete, with the theory that the capsules will open and produce calcium carbonate to heal any cracks that occur.

Why use self-healing concrete?

Although still in the testing phase, should the project prove to be successful, self-healing concrete could revolutionise the construction industry. Currently, an estimated £40 billion per year is used for repairs and maintenance of structures such as bridges, tunnels, and roads, with the majority of the repairs on concrete.

The development of self-healing concrete would dramatically decrease repairs costs, and in turn would help to reduce the delays and inconvenience caused when maintenance work is carried out – particularly on busy motorways and in city centres. The project is still in progress to monitor the concrete’s reaction to a variety of angles, pressures, and loads to test the material’s effectiveness.

Roadmaster Concrete Mixers provide the finest grade of volumetric concrete mixing trucks, allowing you to mix your concrete on-site, no matter the size or location of your project. For more information on any of the services or products we offer, contact our friendly team today and we’ll be happy to assist you.