Within the theme ‘Self-healing materials for prolonged lifetime’ (NMP.2012.2.1-3) of the Seventh Framework Programme, self-healing concrete is an important topic. The project HEALCON, which deals with self-healing concrete to create durable and sustainable concrete structures, is funded by EU-FP7 and started in January 2013. The coordinator of the project is Prof. Nele De Belie (UGent) and the consortium partners are UGent, Avecom, TU Delft, Acciona, TUM, TTI, VTT, COWI, DTI, CEINNMAT, Devan and Fescon.
Adequate perpetuation of the road, tunnel and bridge network, is crucial to preserving European cohesion and business operations; and around 70% of this infrastructure is made of concrete. In order to guarantee liquid tightness of concrete structures, and enhance durability of elements prone to bending cracks, smart concrete with self-healing properties will be designed.
Thanks to the existing expertise of the consortium in the field of self-healing concrete at a lab-scale, a thoughtful selection of promising techniques is possible.
- For early age cracks, a non-elastic repair material can be proposed, such as calcium carbonate precipitated by bacteria, or new cement hydrates whose formation is stimulated by the presence of hydrogels.
- For moving cracks under dynamic load, an elastic polymeric healing agent is suggested.
HEALCON aims to further develop some initial concepts that have been explored earlier by the different partners, in order to ensure practical application in concrete structures.
Different healing agents and encapsulation techniques are tested and scaled up. Self-healing efficiency is evaluated in lab-scale tests using purposefully adapted monitoring techniques, and optimized with the help of suitable computer models.
Finally the efficiency is validated in a large scale lab test and implemented in an actual concrete structure. Life-cycle cost analysis will show the impact of the self-healing technologies on economy, society and environment compared to traditional construction methods.