Research Finds that Concrete Mixed with a Certain Fungus Could Repair Itself
Researchers at Binghamton University (BU) believe that they have discovered a fungus that has the power to heal cracks that form in concrete. The fungus would naturally secrete minerals that fill in the cracks without needing any sort of human intervention.
“Rain and moisture will find their way into the cracks in the concrete, which will cause the fungus to germinate, and as they germinate they will form and create mineral deposits that will fill the crack, which would be able to repeat the process over time,” says Congrui Jin, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at BU.
How Could Fungus Be the Solution?
Our deteriorating infrastructure has sparked many different studies in hopes to find a solution for self-healing concrete – but, this is the first study where researchers have concluded that fungus could solve the problem.
So, how does this work?
Fungal spores and a nutrient-based medium would be mixed into concrete during the mixing process or sprayed onto concrete structures already built. Fungi is uniquely equipped to survive, and has been found in many environments once thought too extreme to sustain life.
The fungi, called Trichoderma reesei, needs to be able to thrive in one of the most extreme man-made environments on earth, one completely devoid of light, water, oxygen while simultaneously being under extreme pressure, to be applicable on a large scale. The team of researchers at BU are confident that they can do this.
This concept is still in the initial research stage, so it might take up to three years to even have a product ready to be purchased on the concrete market.