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Assessing the potential application of bacteria-based self-healing cementitious materials for enhancing durability of wastewater treatment infrastructure

Bagga, Manpreet, Justo-Reinoso, Ismael, Hamley-Bennett, Charlotte, Merces, George, Luli, Saimir, Akono, Ange Therese, Masoero, Enrico, Paine, Kevin, Gebhard, Susanne and Ofiteru, Irina D. 2023. Assessing the potential application of bacteria-based self-healing cementitious materials for enhancing durability of wastewater treatment infrastructure. Cement and Concrete Composites 143 , 105259. 10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2023.105259

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Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) around the world are mainly built using concrete. The continuous exposure to wastewater affects the durability of concrete structures and requires costly maintenance or replacement. Concrete production and repair represents ∼8% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions due to the use of cement, thus contributing to climate change. Developing a more sustainable cementitious material is therefore required for this vital health infrastructure. In this study, the feasibility of using bacteria-based self-healing (BBSH) cementitious materials for WWTPs is assessed by exposing BBSH mortar prisms to a continuous municipal wastewater flow and comparing their self-healing capacity to equivalent mortar prisms exposed to tap water. Microscopy imaging, water-flow tests and micro-CT analyses were performed to evaluate the self-healing efficiency of the mortar prisms, while SEM-EDX and Raman spectroscopy were used to characterise the healing products. Our work represents the first systematic study of the healing potential of BBSH in mortar exposed to wastewater. The results indicate that the purposely added bacteria are able to induce calcium carbonate precipitation when exposed to wastewater conditions. Moreover, if additional sources of calcium and carbon are embedded within the cement matrix, the rich bacterial community inherently present in the wastewater is capable of inducing calcium carbonate precipitation, even if no bacteria are purposely added to the mortar. The results of this study offer promising avenues for the construction of more sustainable wastewater infrastructure, with the potential of significantly reducing costs and simplifying the production process of BBSH concretes for this specific application.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0958-9465
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 16 August 2023
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 02:12

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