Self-healing Concrete Vanishes Potholes Using Bacteria. Here's How it Works

By Jan Dizon | Dec 04, 2014 07:56 AM EST

Potholes be gone! A new cement being developed in the U.K. can potentially make those annoying, and sometimes dangerous, road hazards a thing of the past.

The researchers from three British universities are calling it a self-healing concrete, and it could revolutionize how streets are paved and help the environment at the same time.

The concrete blend will be rich in a special kind of bacteria that lay dormant and hidden in tiny capsules. As soon as the mixture gets wet, like from rainfall which causes gaps to form, widen and eventually turn into potholes, the bacteria spring into action by forming limestone to fill in the air spaces.


Not only will the self-healing concrete save cities from millions of dollars in road repairs every year, the lowered need to conduct pothole fillings can reduce air pollution since seven percent of the world's CO2 emissions are currently caused by cement production.

The concrete is just one of the many exciting developments being foreseen for the future of road design and safety by the engineering company, Arup.

According to the report by Arup, they also see road surfaces being replaced with solar panels that will automatically charge electric cars that run on them and melt snow in Northern climates.

Another innovative idea is to paint roads with temperature sensitive paint to warn drivers of sudden drops in temperature that can make driving conditions difficult.

The Arup group says that these ideas are not far-fetched concepts only to be seen in science fiction but are already realities being pilot tested in various cities around the world.

"They will change the way that we approach mobility and freight transport and will provide safer, more reliable and more environmentally friendly highway infrastructure for generations to come," Tony Marshall, Arup's global highways business leader, said

Aside from improving materials that future roads will be made of, the report also predicts that cars and motor vehicles themselves will also be fitted with technology to interact and communicate more efficiently with other vehicles and their road environment for more efficient driving, less change for human error, and leave less of an imprint on the environment.

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