Researchers at Purdue University are developing technology that would allow concrete-paved bridges and highways to reveal more accurately when they need repairs. The lab is also trying to find a way that concrete could repair itself.
Professor Luna Lu’s team is investigating different types of highly porous, sand-like materials called “internal curing agents” to mix into concrete. When concrete cracks, the curing agents absorb water and feed it into chemical reactions. These reactions produce solid substances that seal off the crack, “healing” the concrete. The healing process also prevents water from seeping into the concrete and corroding steel or rebar reinforcement.