First Large Scale Application with Self-Healing Concrete in Belgium: Analysis of the Laboratory Control Tests

Materials (Basel). 2020 Feb 23;13(4):997. doi: 10.3390/ma13040997.


Due to the negative impact of construction processes on the environment and a decrease in investments, there is a need for concrete structures to operate longer while maintaining their high performance. Self-healing concrete has the ability to heal itself when it is cracked, thereby protecting the interior matrix as well as the reinforcement steel, resulting in an increased service life. Most research has focused on mortar specimens at lab-scale. Yet, to demonstrate the feasibility of applying self-healing concrete in practice, demonstrators of large-scale applications are necessary. A roof slab of an inspection pit was cast with bacterial self-healing concrete and is now in normal operation. As a bacterial additive to the concrete, a mixture called MUC+, made out of a Mixed Ureolytic Culture together with anaerobic granular bacteria, was added to the concrete during mixing. This article reports on the tests carried out on laboratory control specimens made from the same concrete batch, as well as the findings of an inspection of the roof slab under operating conditions. Lab tests showed that cracks at the bottom of specimens and subjected to wet/dry cycles had the best visual crack closure. Additionally, the sealing efficiency of cracked specimens submersed for 27 weeks in water, measured by means of a water permeability setup, was at least equal to 90%, with an efficiency of at least 98.5% for the largest part of the specimens. An inspection of the roof slab showed no signs of cracking, yet favorable conditions for healing were observed. So, despite the high healing potential that was recorded during lab experiments, an assessment under real-life conditions was not yet possible.

Keywords: Bacterial self-healing concrete; large-scale demonstrator; permeability tests; site trials.