Self-healing concrete uses a combination of shape memory polymers, microcapsules and microbial healing to reduce or slow down the effects of deterioration due to ageing or damage. The aim is to improve the durability of concrete structures.
Costain is one of the industrial partners of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded Materials 4 Life research project and has been sponsoring research by Cardiff, Cambridge and Bath Universities into the materials.
The contractor is building a trial structure at its the Heads of the Valleys highways project to give the research team an opportunity to monitor the performance of the material in a real site-based environment.
Costain civil engineer Oliver Teall, who is on secondment to Cardiff University where he is completing a PhD, explained: “We’ll be building a full-scale wall structure with a number of concrete panels. Into each panel we will incorporate different combinations of self-healing techniques. These will be loaded to artificially damage them, and then monitored to see how they react and recover over time.
“We plan to start testing at the end of September, running for a minimum of six months. From this trial we should gain an insight into the feasibility of constructing a full-scale structure with these techniques and their early-stage effects on structural properties.
“We’ll be looking at the effect of the healing techniques on areas such as stiffness, permeability and the mechanical damage recovery of the trial panels.”