Bacteria Which Knits Concrete

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitting Concrete

British scientists from Newcastle University have developed genetically modified bacteria that can fill up cracks and crevices in concrete. The bacteria can knit cracks together in concrete structures by producing special bacterial glue.

The genetically modified ‘BacillaFilla’ has been programmed to swim down to the finest cracks in a concrete. Once it reaches the bottom of the crack it begins to produce a mixture of calcium carbonate and bacterial glue, which combine with the thread like bacterial cells to literally ‘knit’ the building or structure. It is a genetically modified version of ‘Bacillus subtilis’; a bacteria that is mostly found in common soil. BacillaFilla starts germinating when it comes into contact with the highly specific pH of concrete. Once they germinate, they crawl down to the deepest of the cracks and using quorum sensing, figure out when enough bacteria have accumulated. This is when they start producing calcium carbonate and bacterial glue. What makes this bacteria special is its self-destructing properties which prevent it from producing bacterial concrete after the work is completed.

Scientists state that BacillaFilla can be instrumental in increasing the longevity of damaged structures by repairing it. The technique could be used to immediately repair buildings in an earthquake stricken zone and reduce the number of structures that have to be razed after a disaster. It would also bring down carbon dioxide emissions that occur as a result of the production of concrete.

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