The universities of Binghamton and Rutgers are studying the use of a fungus to create a self-healing concrete. While the study still has to investigate the effect on key traits such as strength, I believe that the corrosion prevention aspect could be utilized in absence of the resolution of these issues.
By coating a steel structure in a couple of inches of self-healing concrete that will continuously heal cracks and prevent water from getting to the steel, this will significantly increase the lifespan of the structure. This will also negate the need for bridge painting with needs to be constantly repainted to keep the steel protected. Utilizing the self-healing concrete as purely a corrosion preventative will allow the designers to add its weight to the dead load and design the structure to operate without the strength of that concrete. This would mean that so long as the self-healing concrete continues to prevent water from reaching the steel and corroding it, the unresolved issues of strength would not be a concern.
While this application would still need to be studied, testing this specific application would require much less time and allow for a faster delivery of this product to the industry. It would also save significantly on the maintenance costs and increased life expectancy of structures. The funds raised by the use of the product for corrosion prevention will also be able to continue to fund the development of the self-healing concrete as a structural element in its own right.
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