How much easier would our lives be if, like our bodies, our possessions could regenerate their own material to repair the damage they suffered?
Well, thanks to some very smart people in England, concrete could automatically regenerate itself by adding a simple enzyme found in our blood, repairing cracks in the sidewalk, roads, or buildings, saving tons of CO2, as well as millions. in dollars, hours of work and slowdown in traffic.
Recent estimates place the global concrete supply chain at 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than triple what the airline industry generates. One of the most prevalent human materials also requires the most supporting infrastructure – from mining to mixing, moving, placing and repairing – it’s a huge effort.
The Worcester Polytechnic Institute led a project to analyze self-healing concrete, which has been raised as possible since the mid-1990s, and which was recently confirmed as possible with bacteria in 2015.
Like previous researchers, the Worcester team, led by Nima Rahbar, used an enzyme found in red blood cells called “carbonic anhydrase,” at the suggestion of a biochemical collaborator of theirs.
Anhydrase is responsible for moving CO2 from our cells into our blood vessels as fast as our breath, and when added to concrete dust, it actually uses CO2 from the air to create calcium carbonate crystals. A millimeter crack can be filled after just several hours, preventing larger cracks from forming. Anhydrase was one of the reasons bacteria were able to repair the concrete.
Another method is to add carbonic anhydrase to water and calcium together in a spray and apply it to a concrete crack. If CO2 is then blown over the crack, like Wolverine from X Men It will seal in just minutes, while if you just use the CO2 in the air, it will take longer.
Astute readers will recognize that this technology also absorbs some CO2 from the environment, which in addition to extending the life of concrete by four, allows it to become a carbon jailer as well.
TO peer-reviewed study demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology, which Rahbar hopes will lead a startup somewhere to develop a commercial version to bring to market.
“This is not going to cost a lot,” Rahbar said. Fast company. “But in general, the system requires some incentive.”
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