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David Cartwright

Construction - 5 min read

Bio-concrete: Is This The Future Of Construction?

David Cartwright

Senior Marketing Manager - Software

Oct 7, 2019 8:00:00 AM

As the most commonly used material in construction, concrete has been relied on for decades to provide durability, strength, and flexibility. Significant advancements have been made in the world of concrete manufacturing and usage over the years. Builders can now access concrete in multiple grades, compositions, and performance levels. 

But In 2017, a Dutch researcher (Hendrick Jonkers) developed one of the most innovative features that concrete could have. By slightly tweaking the composition of regular concrete, he infused a biological ingredient that made concrete have self-healing properties. 

Bio-concrete is proving to become a game-changer in the world of construction. By having the material essentially “heal itself” from cracks and breakage, builders will have an easier time completing projects and handling costly repairs. Bio-concrete will also play a critical role in structural integrity and durability by reducing the risk of a building collapsing.   


What is bio-concrete?

Bio-concrete is an innovative building material that can heal itself when cracks occur. How does it work? This concrete mixture contains bacteria that can produce limestone under specific conditions. If a crack occurs along the concrete surface, the bacteria will be “activated” to produce limestone that essentially “heals” the crack. This makes concrete more durable and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, less mining will have to occur to obtain concrete, and fewer resources will be spent on building maintenance. 

The extra ingredient that’s present in bio-concrete is clay pellets. These pellets contain bacillus bacteria spores mixed with calcium lactate. When a crack occurs on concrete, external elements (such as air and water) will react with the bacteria to form limestone. This limestone is what eventually covers up the cracks and allows your concrete to “heal”.    

Bio-concrete is applicable in real-world situations because the bacteria can last for many years without losing their active properties. They essentially lie dormant within the clay pellets and are activated by external elements when a crack occurs. 


How Bio-concrete can help construction companies

Research surrounding self-healing concrete surfaced in 2015, sparking interest in builders, estimators, engineers, and other stakeholders as to how bio-concrete could be utilised to streamline daily construction activities. Does bio-concrete have the potential to become the future of construction? The numerous benefits of this material make it a front-runner for widespread adoption in years to come.  

Bio-concrete is useful and applicable to construction companies in the following ways.   


Sealing small cracks that could eventually become larger 

Perhaps one of the most powerful applications of bio-concrete is that it can be used to seal up small cracks within larger slabs of concrete. It is these small cracks that eventually expand to cause significant damage in buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure. 

Bio-concrete can seal cracks of up to 0.8mm in width, catching the problem in advance and preventing significant structural damage. 


Applicable to different types of infrastructure 

Bio-concrete is also usable in many different contexts. The flexibility of bacillus bacteria makes it functional for bridges, buildings, tunnels, and other types of infrastructure. 

The wider use functions of this material can open up many new possibilities in engineering, microbiology, and construction. Not only can you save on costs during your future projects, but you can also explore new designs, enjoy more durable structures, and cut costs down the road.   


An environmentally friendly solution 

The benefits of bio-concrete extend beyond economic applications. This material also reduces carbon emissions, making it possible for commercial and residential builders to lower their carbon footprints. By using less concrete to carry out maintenance and repairs, there will be fewer carbon emissions into the environment over time. 

Sustainable construction is the future of our industry and bio-concrete is at the forefront of promoting this revolution. 


Active for long periods 

Endurance tests were recently carried out on bio-concrete to assess its durability and strength. Results show that the material is expected to last for over 200 years within its proper composition. This also means that clay pellets in the biochemical mixture are durable even under multiple weather and physical conditions. 

The durability of bio-concrete is a game-changer that makes this material applicable in many different contexts. Hendrick Jonkers, the Dutch researcher who produced bio-concrete, is also working on a new technique for encapsulating bacillus bacteria into concrete mixtures. 

This will further reduce production costs and increase the use-value of this revolutionary material. The future of bio-concrete and sustainable construction is bright, and your business shouldn’t be left behind in benefitting from this innovative building option.

The construction industry isn’t slowing down. Keep up with the digital transformation by trialling Cubit, an innovative natural estimating software to help save you time and money on your projects today.


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