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Posted Thu Sep 2 2010: from New Scientist:
For self-healing concrete, just add bacteria and food
Like living bone, concrete could soon be healing its own hairline fractures - with bacteria in the role of osteoblast cells. Worked into the concrete from the beginning, these water-activated bacteria would munch food provided in the mix to patch up cracks and small holes. Concrete reinforced with steel forms the skeleton of many buildings and bridges. But any cracks in its gritty exterior make it vulnerable: "Water is the culprit for concrete because it enters the cracks and it brings aggressive chemicals with it," says Henk Jonkers of Delft University of Technology in Delft, the Netherlands. These chemicals degrade both concrete and steel.... To find bacteria that are happy in such an alkaline environment, Jonkers and his colleagues looked to soda lakes in Russia and Egypt where the pH of the water is naturally high - and found that some strains of Bacillus thrived there. Moreover, the bacteria can take on a dormant spore state for long periods - up to 50 years, according to Jonkers - without food or water. He compares them to seeds waiting for water to germinate. To keep the spores from activating in the wet concrete mix, and to keep them and their calcium lactate food from affecting the quality of the concrete, Jonkers and his colleagues first set both into ceramic pellets 2 to 4 millimetres wide and then added them to the concrete.
[Read more stories about: bioremediation]

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'Doc Michael says:
Can we get some bacteria to make concrete? Now there's some GMO I could get behind.

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