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Living concrete is the output of a new research done at the University of Colorado Boulder, by Wil Srubar and his colleagues, where it was found that bacteria can be used to make concrete in a greener and sustainable way.
After water, cement is the second most-consumed material by humans. Production of cement itself is the cause of 6% Carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere, and when it is cured in the form of concrete, the emissions are even more.
The idea of using bacteria in concrete is not new. Earlier, researches have been conducted where bacteria helped the concrete to heal its cracks on its own. But in this article, we will talk about a bacterium that can do much more than that.
The bacteria which is used in the living concrete is called Synechococcus. This bacterium comes under the criteria of Cyanobacteria. It gains its energy through the process of photosynthesis. In this process, it absorbs carbon dioxide, sunlight, and some other nutrients in the presence of chlorophyll and releases calcium carbonate and oxygen.
They do not have a membrane-bound nucleus and are green in color due to the chlorophyll. Thus, sometimes they are addressed as Green Algae. Cyanobacteria have a tolerance to extreme conditions and the ability to exist without vitamins. They reproduce by the process called Binary Fission, in which the chromosomes pull apart, and one cell splits into two.
The researchers combined the bacteria with gelatin, sand, and some nutrients in a liquid mixture. They then placed the mixture in a mold. The bacteria started its biological process and produced Calcium carbonate crystals all around the sand particles, just like the formation of seashells.
The mixture was then cooled due to which the gelatin got converted into a gel form. The gel was then dehydrated, and it became a hard material that could bear loads.
The researchers say that if these living bricks are cut into two halves, and some extra sand and moisture is provided to it, then they will grow into two complete bricks. In an experiment, they could make eight bricks out of one parent brick after three generations.
Advantages of Living Concrete
It is a revolutionary concept because this concrete doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, but absorbs it and releases oxygen. In this way, the blame for atmosphere depletion by the construction industry can be shifted.
The concrete can be used to construct in places where very few resources are available such as places like deserts or other planets like Mars.
The living concrete continues to grow if it is not dehydrated entirely. All we need to do is add some sand and nutrients, and more concrete can be produced from the existing concrete.
Problems with Living Concrete
To attain the maximum strength, the concrete needs to be dried thoroughly. Due to this, the viability of bacteria will have to be compromised.
Humid conditions are not available in all parts of the world, so the scope of this concrete is not in the entire world. The living material has been linked with concrete, but actually, its properties match with mortar, which is not as strong as concrete.
Living concrete is a new research done at the University of Colorado Boulder, by Wil Srubar and his colleagues, where it was found that bacteria can be used to make concrete in a greener and sustainable way.
The bacteria which is used in the living concrete is called Synechococcus.
Living concrete doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, but absorbs it and releases oxygen.