THE FUTURE IS HERE: SELF-HEALING BUILDING MATERIALS

1Is the future here? Self-healing building materials?  Have we progressed to a world where buildings not only stand tall but also have the potential to fix their own imperfections?  Although the concept seems like something straight out of sci-fi, today we’re diving into the awe-inspiring world of self-healing building materials. 

SELF HEALING CONCRETE

One of the pioneering materials making waves in building structures is self-healing concrete.  Now, we all know that despite its strength, concrete tends to develop cracks over time.  But with each passing year we’re getting closer to a day when these imperfections become a thing of the past.

The technology is referred to as “bio-concrete” which contains bacterial spores and nutrients embedded within the concrete. How does it work? Well, when tiny fissures appear in concrete, it allows water to seep in. That activates imbedded bacteria which multiplies to produce limestone; effectively sealing the cracks. It’s like a microbial construction crew working tirelessly to keep the concrete intact!

Dozens of respected scientists including scholars at MIT and Harvard have studied the process which has shown promising results.  And every day, researchers continue to demonstrate the practicality and effectiveness of this innovative approach; the technology holds immense promise.

SELF HEALING POLYMERS

But there’s more!  Self-healing polymers are also taking the stage in a broad range of applications including electronics, aerospace and medical technologies.  Like the self-healing process of concrete, these polymers have the remarkable ability to repair themselves when damaged.  

What sets this science apart is the polymers are equipped with microcapsules. An article in HEYAUTO had the simplest description “…microcapsules are filled with a healing agent. So basically when a polymer infused material is damaged, these capsules rupture and release the healing agent to repair the area”. It’s like a built in first aid kit.

One notable example of these products is automotive paint.  Several car manufacturers have developed self-healing paint or clear coating that incorporates polymer technology.  Makers like Lexus, Infiniti, Audi and others have introduced their individually formulated coatings on certain models.  Why?  Because these infused coatings help diminish the appearance of scratches when they are exposed to heat or sunlight.

And while these coatings don’t eliminate deep or severe scratches, they significantly reduce the visibility of minor surface damage.  That means the enhanced appearance reduces the need for frequent repainting and touch-ups.

SELF HEALING METALS

And still, the list goes on. Let’s talk metals.  Now, certain metallics and alloys are engineered to have self-healing properties of their own. These materials can repair microscopic defects or cracks by redistributing their atomic structure to mend the damage. So, these alloys are now being explored in structural component applications and use in machinery parts for increased longevity and reliability.

Along those same lines, another innovation starting to gain traction in the world of metals is Shape Memory Alloys (SMA).  SMAs possess a unique characteristic; they can revert to their original shape after deformation and effectively heal themselves.  Imagine a building material that, when subjected to stress, can return to its initial form without human intervention.

THE FUTURE IS HERE: SELF-HEALING BUILDING MATERIALS

So the future is here: self-healing building materials aren’t just sci-fi. And while much of self-healing technology is still in its early stages, researchers are continuously working to refine these materials for widespread application in the construction industry. These advancements would not only offer solutions to structural wear and tear but also hint at a future where buildings become more dynamic, responsive, and resilient. Once they become mainstream, these modern marvels are enough to make builders, architects and the Kramer Engineers team that much more excited about the future.