Quantification of crack-healing in novel bacteria-based self-healing concrete

Virginie Wiktor, Henk M. Jonkers
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Section of Materials & Environment – Microlab, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands, Received 11 November 2010; revised 30 March 2011; Accepted 31 March 2011. Available online 7 April 2011.


Abstract

Crack formation is a commonly observed phenomenon in concrete structures. Although micro crack formation hardly affects structural properties of constructions, increased permeability due to micro crack networking may substantially reduce the durability of concrete structures due to risk of ingress of aggressive substances particularly in moist environments. In order to increase the often observed autogenous crack-healing potential of concrete, specific healing agents can be incorporated in the concrete matrix. The aim of this study was to quantify the crack-healing potential of a specific and novel two-component bio-chemical self-healing agent embedded in porous expanded clay particles, which act as reservoir particles and replace part of regular concrete aggregates. Upon crack formation the two-component bio-chemical agent consisting of bacterial spores and calcium lactate are released from the particle by crack ingress water. Subsequent bacterially mediated calcium carbonate formation results in physical closure of micro cracks. Experimental results showed crack-healing of up to 0.46 mm-wide cracks in bacterial concrete but only up to 0.18 mm-wide cracks in control specimens after 100 days submersion in water. That the observed doubling of crack-healing potential was indeed due to metabolic activity of bacteria was supported by oxygen profile measurements which revealed O2 consumption by bacteria-based but not by control specimens. We therefore conclude that this novel bio-chemical self-healing agent shows potential for particularly increasing durability aspects of concrete constructions in wet environments.

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