Concrete has long been recognized as a sort of wonder material. From the ancient Egyptians to the ancient Romans, concrete has been a staple in building and construction for thousands of years. Throughout that period of time, concrete has gone through many transformations, evolving and changing with every new technological and chemical advancement. One of the most recent advancements was the discovery and development of a new, self-healing flexible concrete by researchers at the University of Michigan.
Traditional concrete is often beset with wide, gaping cracks that threaten and destroy the material’s structural integrity. Wear, abrasion, and the elements all play a role in concrete’s destruction, and the image of the rundown, cracked sidewalk with weeds growing through are fairly commonplace. However, the new concrete material is designed to avoid these gaping cracks, and even can be fixed and repaired without any human effort.
The new concrete works by bending with the pressure caused by such problems as freeze/thaw cycles. Instead of being so rigid as to crack in a large, gaping manner, the concrete will crack much more subtly throughout the material. This is a natural benefit because the concrete is also designed to heal itself. With exposure to water and carbon dioxide, the concrete can actually mend its own cracks without any human interference. Instead of spending time and money on various attempted fixes for your cracked concrete, you will now only have to wait for the next rainstorm for your concrete to heal itself.
The new concrete substance bends rather than cracks, which preserves its structural integrity enabling it to heal itself without recourse to heavy machinery and human labor. In fact, the concrete has been shown to repair itself back to its original level of strength with only a few drizzly days. The biggest current negative to the use of the material is its unsurprising price tag. The new concrete can cost up to three times more than traditional concrete, which ensures manufacturers of concrete sealer will remain in business despite the new advancements. While self-healing concrete is an incredible discovery, it hardly is a cost-effective alternative to construction professionals and homeowners who just want to protect their concrete.