A breakthrough in research by biochemists at the University of Colorado may change the way buildings are made forever. We know construction projects require forms and concrete formwork ties, but what about using living, biological materials?
Read on below to learn how bacteria is joining concrete materials in changing and revolutionizing the future of construction.
What Are Living Buildings?
Technically, most buildings are made up of materials that were living at some point. Whether it was wood or other organic material, humans have used these resources to build non-living things such as symons forms. The scientists and engineers at Colorado University have realized that combining organic and inorganic materiel could create a building that was multi-faceted. This “hybrid building” could support life, be load-bearing, reproduce, and heal itself – all through organic construction bricks.
These living bricks are currently being engineered and tested in Colorado and are made up of sand, cement, and cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are saltwater bacteria that, when modified, could create living buildings and bring reformation to the construction industry.
Benefits of Materials that are Alive
Hybrid buildings are huge advances in technology and will revolutionize construction as we know it. The basic principles of concrete structures have stayed relatively the same for the last couple hundred years. Here are some of the benefits that would accompany hybrid buildings if we changed the way we approached biological construction.
While normal buildings and bricks expel carbon dioxide, cyanobacteria bricks would help remove carbon dioxide from the air. The way this works is the cyanobacteria actually take in carbon dioxide gas to help them develop. Even more, this gas helps the bacteria create one of the key compounds found in concrete which is calcium carbonate.
These lab bricks have proven so far to be just as durable as any current, standing structure. While there are still advances that need to be made in this technology, scientists believe these types of structures could withstand harsh environments due to the bacteria.
Other Unforeseen Benefits
These bacteria bricks have some unusual but promising benefits if they are able to be implemented in the industry in the future. Once of these benefits is the healing and self-repairing nature of a living organism. This could benefit a building that experiences cracking, fires, and other natural problems.
Another unusual benefit is how the bacteria change color depending on what it interacts with. Some reports have said that the bacteria will turn green when there is an unusual toxin or gas in the area. The biochemists working on this project believe buildings could “alarm us” of harmful substances in the atmosphere before they harm a human.
Perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs in this technology has been the discovery of its reproducing nature. These bricks are not only able to self-heal, but they are also capable of reproducing and sustaining themselves.
Currently, the survival rate has been low in lab experiments when trying to get a brick to self-heal or reproduce, but science is not far off from figuring out to harness this untapped potential. If and when bacteria are able to reproduce in a construction brick, this will be a game changer for the construction industry. No longer will buildings require extra money and resources, but rather manufacturing will be performed on an exponential level through bacteria growth.
Forming America Is Your Supplier
Though we are not quite there yet in terms of harnessing living buildings, time will only tell when this dream becomes reality. Forming America is glad to keep the construction industry updated with the newest trends and breakthroughs.
If you are a contractor or construction worker in need of concrete forms, shoring equipment, or other hardware, contact us today so we can get you taken care of. We have everything you’ll need for your next job.