Science offers an unusual solution for aging concrete problems< Back to Blog

Fungi concrete 1It’s safe to say that the invention of reinforced concrete had a huge impact on construction, industry and engineering. But, while this material has given us many great structures, we all know that, as a building ages, cracks can appear and, with the knock-on effect this can have on underlying steel reinforcements, structures can literally crumble.

With repairs or re-build options coming at a significant price and often only presenting a short-term solution, a team of researchers at Binghamton and Rutgers Universities set out to see if there was a better way.

Inspired by the human body’s ability to self-heal when it comes to cuts, bruises or even broken bones, Professor Congrui Jin and his team, turned their attention to how concrete could self-heal and found an answer in a slightly unusual place – a fungus called Trichoderma Reesei!

Fungi concrete 2How does it work?

We may not be scientists here at Sheriff, but it’s our understanding that, when first mixed with concrete, this fungus lies dormant. As cracks appear, letting in water and oxygen, the fungus comes to life – germinating and encouraging formation of the chemical, calcium carbonate, which can help to heal the cracks.

Once the cracks are filled and no more water or oxygen can enter, the fungi spores return to a dormant state until they’re next needed.

 

With the research still at an early stage, it may be a while before we see such a product on our building sites, but this industrial development is already being described by some as a low cost, pollution-free and sustainable approach to ensuring structures better resist the stresses that come with aging.

Now, we just need an ‘age-resisting’ solution for humans!

24.05.2018