Evaluating the Self-Healing Efficiency of Hydrogel-Encapsulated Bacteria in Concrete

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Bacterial concrete has become one of the most promising self-healing alternatives owing to its capability to seal crack widths through microbial-induced calcite precipitation (MICP). In this study, two bacterial strains were embedded at varying dosages (by weight of cement) in concrete. Beam specimens were used to quantify the maximum crack-sealing efficiency, whereas cylinder samples were used to determine their effects on the intrinsic mechanical properties of concrete, as well as its stiffness recovery over time after inducing damage. The concrete specimens were cured in wet–dry cycles to enable healing. Results showed that the specimen groups with the highest calcium alginate concentrations (including the control specimens with embedded alginate beads but no bacteria) resulted in the greatest increase in stiffness recovery. Similarly, the beam samples containing alginate beads (also including the Control 3%C specimen group) had superior crack-healing efficiencies to the control samples without alginate beads (Control NC). This was attributed to the alginate beads acting as a reservoir that can further enhance the autogenous healing capability of concrete. Based on the results of this study, further research is recommended to explore factors that can maximize the self-healing mechanism of bacterial concrete through MICP and determine whether an alternative encapsulation mechanism, nutrient selection, curing regime, or bacterial strain is needed.

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Transportation Research Record

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