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Self-Healing Concrete

One of the best ways to be green is to make the most of what is already being used.  It is hard to do with concrete due to its brittle nature.  Once it is broken, it is hard to fix without costly man hours and the use of more natural resources.

However, Michelle Pelletier, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, has discovered a way for concrete to heal itself.  Pelletier found that after fracturing concrete mixed with a microencapsulated sodium silicate agent into standard concrete can cause the concrete to regain up to 26 percent of its original strength.  It is speculated that a higher concentration of the sodium silicate will result in a higher rebounding strength.

After the concrete fractures, the sodium silicate particles break apart and mix with calcium hydroxide (a standard agent in concrete).  The mixture then forms calcium-silica-hydrate which fill the cracks.  This simple chemical reaction could lead to less potholes and longer road lifespans, and ultimately leading to saving more natural resources.

The best part about this is unlike most “smart” materials and technology.  This one is very cost effective and means that it could be implemented quickly and efficiently.


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