View Full Version : URI Student Develops Self-Renewing Concrete

06-06-2010, 07:00 AM
NEWPORT, R.I. – As anyone who’s driven down Spring Street recently can tell you, concrete doesn’t fix itself. But thanks to research from a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, that may change in the near future.

In what may be finding the equivalent to the fountain of youth for concrete, Michelle Pelletier found that mixing a micro-encapsulated sodium silicate agent into standard concrete can cause the material to regain up to 26 percent of its original strength after being severely fractured.

According to Pelletier, those numbers were developed by using a two percent solution of the sodium silicate, and the results could be even better with a higher concentration.

So how does it work?

As the concrete fractures, the tiny sodium silicate capsules break apart, releasing their contents. The sodium silicate reacts with the calcium hydroxide naturally present in the concrete to form a calcium-silica-hydrate product to heal the cracks and block the pores in the concrete. The chemical reaction creates a gel-like material that hardens in about one week.

The best part is that unlike other so-called “smart” materials, Pelletier’s concoction is fairly inexpensive, which means that it’s more likely to be adopted in the near future. Hit the jump for the full press release.

“Smart materials usually have an environmental trigger that causes the healing to occur,” explained Pelletier, who is collaborating on the project with URI Chemical Engineering Professor Arijit Bose. “What’s special about our material is that it can have a localized and targeted release of the healing agent only in the areas that really need it.”

One additional advantage to the use of self-healing concrete is that it could reduce the significant CO2 emissions that result from concrete production. Because the production of concrete is very energy intensive – when mining, transportation and concrete plants are considered – the industry is responsible for about 10 percent of all CO2 emissions in the United States.

“If self-healing concrete can lengthen the life of the concrete and reduce maintenance and repairs, it will ultimately reduce the production of excess amounts of concrete and result in a decrease in CO2 emissions,” she said.

If the product comes to market soon enough, perhaps the city would volunteer Spring Street to become a test subject for the material.


06-07-2010, 10:42 AM
I must have this for my driveway. :cool:

06-07-2010, 12:46 PM
I must have this for my driveway. :cool:

round here - we need it for every street we have. Our weather is very hard on road surfaces.