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Self-healing concrete research voted most likely to change the world


An audience of science enthusiasts and media at this year’s British Science Festival in Newcastle voted an EPSRC-funded project, led by academics at Cardiff University, as the most likely to have the biggest global effect.

Attendees at the ’You Heard it Heard First’ session listened to five minute presentations from academics working across a wide range of science, from the effects of gravitational waves to the role of quantum physics in metrology to using high precision lasers in imaging.

Researcher, Dr Diane Gardner explained how she is exploring ways of producing concrete that will repair itself when its integrity is threatened through cracking. One of the techniques being investigated involves embedding microbes and a food source into concrete mixtures that will only be activated in the presence of water. The bacteria lie dormant until cracking occurs and water ingresses. The resulting activity heals the cracks and preserves the structure.

Post-pitch voting then revealed that the audience thought that Diane’s work had most potential to have the biggest global effect but was also most likely to have the biggest effect on their lives individually. Dr Diane Gardner, Co-Director BRE Institute in Sustainable Engineering at Cardiff University School of Engineering said: “To win an award about research that has the potential to have biggest global impact is truly exciting. It demonstrates that others share our vision for creating resilient infrastructure that can adapt, sense and respond to damage, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate both environmentally and economically costly repair and maintenance activities. My colleagues and I at Cardiff, Bath and Cambridge Universities are working hard to make this vision a reality. I hope that in the next 2-3 years we will be reporting on field trials of self-healing concrete and that there is sufficient support from the Construction Industry to further develop and embed this new material in their projects.”

The project Materials for Life (M4L): Biomimetic multi-scale damage immunity for construction materials is a collaboration between three universities and other industry partners working in construction and infrastructure.

Reference: PN 67-13


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