Effects of Self-Healing Concrete on Aging Concrete Structures

Project ID: 7064
Principal Investigator: Miguel Hernandez
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can the use of self-healing concrete reduce maintenance costs associated with concrete
cracking, and as a result extend the service life of a structure?

Need and Benefit

Reclamation's aging infrastructure, along with the challenge of budget constraints,has created
an opportunity to investigate concrete repair methods that will provide positive long lasting
results. Currently, when repairs to critical infrastructure are performed we find that there are
several challenges that affect the success of the repair activities. Specifically, those factors
include the use of unskilled labor, unsatisfactory weather conditions, and limitations on sizes of
repairs due to financial limitations. As a result of these factors and several others, concrete
repairs can undergo a short life span due to the development of cracks. These cracks will
eventually lead to the deterioration of the repair area as water or debris enter the cracks and
increase its susceptibility to damage.
Concrete cracking and unsuccessful repair projects are not limited to The Bureau of Reclamation
(Reclamation) as the entire repair industry also faces this challenge. Experimentation and
application of self-healing concrete technology has shown promise and the benefits include
reduction in maintenance costs, increased durability, as well as the elimination of recurring
repairs.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Effects of Self-Healing Concrete on Aging Concrete Structures (final, PDF, 1.7MB)
By Miguel Hernandez
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

Reclamation's aging infrastructure, along with the challenge of budget constraints, has created an opportunity to investigate concrete repair methods that will provide positive long lasting results. Currently, when repairs to critical infrastructure are performed we find that there are several challenges that affect the success of the repair activities. Specifically, those factors include the use of unskilled labor, unsatisfactory weather conditions, and limitations on sizes of repairs due to financial limitations. As a result of these factors and several others, concrete repairs can undergo a short life span due to the development of cracks. These cracks will eventually lead to the deterioration of the repair area as water or debris enter the cracks and increase it susceptibility to damage. In contrast to traditional concrete mixes, self-healing concrete can be comprised of polymer capsules within the batched concrete mix that activate when a crack opens the capsule. As water penetrates the crack it activates the polymer solution and fills the crack thereby protecting the repair area from the environment. The polymer solution contains a unique bacteria (Bacillus pasteurii) that is alkali-resistant and can live within the concrete for 200 years.


Return to Research Projects

Last Updated: 4/4/17