Stouffville Mobile Redimix weighs in on the innovation of active concrete. Bricks Alive! Scientists create living concrete. The article presented by Amos Zeeberg provides insight into the scientific discovery that can reduce gas emissions and bring the concrete industry to new heights. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/science/construction-concrete-bacteria-photosynthesis.html
Concrete is the second most-consumed material on earth. Concrete has been manufactured and utilized the same way since 1824. Proving its durability and protective attributes for decades. Now it is time to take it into the 21st century. A team of researchers from the University of Colorado has combined sand/material, cyanobacteria, and a bonding agent. The result, concrete material that has the ability to reproduce, therefore making it a living product! Pat from Stouffville Mobile Redimix exclaims, “this is unbelievable! With many innovative contributions to the concrete industry that I have heard of, this is by far, my favorite.” The researchers use microbes that gain energy through the process of photosynthesis, therefore absorbing carbon dioxide. Pat expresses, “this will make waves in regards to the effects mass-produced concrete has on the environment.”
The article explains that the process is focused on manufacturing the product and keeping the finished product alive. The first attempt included water, sand, nutrients, and of course, the microbes. The end product, cement, however, this process took quite some time to solidify. To speed up the process, they decided to add household gelatin. Yes, the kind that is incorporated into dessert making. The addition of gelatin gave the final product more structure and advanced abilities to grow stronger and more quickly. Pat expresses, “there is so much more to learn. Can this type of material withstand weather elements? What about durability? How much weight can it hold? Suppose this science/biology can provide the solution to environmental issues, heal cracks within concrete structures, and make mass production easier, all while having the same characteristics. In that case, we as an industry need to get on board”.
Much more information is being developed. Dr.Srubar, a structural engineer who was also the head of the research project, mentions the versatility of these kinds of advances in science. Other building materials can be used and recycled. The researchers are continuing to find ways to make this new type of concrete tougher, easy to store and transport, and reducing the effects of humidity. Pat expresses, “recycling old concrete is an issue within the industry; this solution could clean up many areas globally who have a growing concern regarding vacant concrete structures.”
Dr.Srubar suggests that biology can expand the realm of possibilities for building materials, such as detecting any flaws or damage and detecting/ responding to toxic chemicals. Pat exclaims, “I see this going far beyond the construction industry. I am definitely curious to see the further advancements science has for the concrete industry”.
Who knew that combining microbes with sand and other aggregates could resolve so many industrial issues and reinvent the most used material in the world? Pat shares, “my guess, innovation will not stop here. There are so many brilliant minds and many more years of concrete use”.