When we think of the terms smart or innovative architecture, we usually consider things like energy efficiency or universal design. However, these days, scientists are creating new technologies that go beyond basic structural form and function.
A while back, we posted a blog about Organic Designs, which discussed a bacteria that can be used to seal cracks in concrete when exposed to water. The bacteria are placed in nutrient-rich capsules and come to life when moisture – the bane of concrete longevity – is present. The downside to this technology is that bacteria have a one-year lifespan and eventually they die out, which means it’s back to traditional concrete repair methods.
Now, South Korean scientist, Chan-Moon Chun, has created the chemical equivalent of self-healing concrete. A recent article in The Economist explains how Chun was able to create a perfect combination of methacryloxypropyl-terminated polydimethylsiloxane and benzoin isobutyl (you’re familiar with them, right?!?). When exposed to sunlight, they form a waterproof polymer that adheres to concrete. The added benefit is that chemicals don’t die off, which means their ability to seal small holes and cracks in concrete is longer lasting.
This wave of invention, creating innovative architecture that can repair itself, will have considerable benefits in terms of long-term building and repair costs for both the public and private sector. What are your thoughts about self-healing concrete and it’s possibilities in the worlds of architecture and construction?
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