NZ Researchers Use Nanobiotechnology to Develop New Type of Concrete
Concrete serves an important role in the construction of infrastructure and buildings, yet the material is unfortunately prone to damage and usual wear and tear.
Good thing, builders normally depend on a corrosion control specialist to resolve such issues. In New Zealand, a pair of researchers has discovered a solution that can complement existing solutions to concrete problems.
University of Waikato’s Aydin Berenjian and Mostafa Seifan used nanobiotechnology to develop a new form of concrete that can regenerate and repair itself. The pair used fermentation to prevent microbes from thriving inside concrete. Berenjian said that solid-state fermentation can also be found in other food products such as sourdough.
However, it took four years before the researchers were able to discover the development of the self-repairing concrete. Unlike the process used for food, Berenjian noted that biomineralisation played a central role in their invention. As billions of tonnes are used worldwide, the breakthrough will be a game-changer for the construction industry.
While the researchers are elated at their feat, they admit that more needs to be done particularly with the cost of production. A cubic metre of self-repairing concrete costs around $200. In New Zealand alone, concrete production reaches one million cubic metres every year.
Once it becomes more affordable, there are several possibilities where self-repairing concrete can be used apart from the construction industry. According to Berenjian, oil reservoirs can use the new material to address cracks, absorb pollution, and stabilise soil. At the moment, the invention’s self-repairing process takes 28 days before results are noticeable.
Self-repairing concrete represents a big step towards sustainability and modern construction techniques, but it should not be a substitute for routine maintenance and inspection. Companies would still need to be mindful of corrosion, which is a major issue in any steel-reinforced concrete structure.