Application of bacteria in concrete: a critical evaluation of the current status

  • Nele De Belie Ghent University
Keywords: Micro-organisms, bacteria, microbial calcium carbonate, bioconsolidation, self-healing, concrete


Microbially induced carbonate precipitation has been tested over more than a decade as a technique to enhance concrete properties. Mainly bacteria following the pathways of urea decomposition, oxidation of organic acids, or nitrate reduction have been studied for this purpose. For bacteria mixed into fresh concrete, it is difficult to prove that they actively contribute to calcium carbonate precipitation and the effects on concrete strength are variable. Application of bacteria for surface consolidation has been shown to reduce water absorption and increase durability. Microbial self-healing of cracks in concrete shows promising results at the laboratory scale. Especially the use of self-protected mixed cultures opens perspectives for practical application. However, their self-healing efficiency needs to be further proven in larger concrete elements, and under non-ideal conditions. The use of denitrifying cultures for concurrent self-healing and production of corrosion inhibiting nitrites is a promising new strategy.
Bacterial CaCO3 precipitation on concrete samples (courtesy of Elke Gruyaert)
How to Cite
De Belie, N. (2016) “Application of bacteria in concrete: a critical evaluation of the current status”, RILEM Technical Letters, 10, pp. 56-61. doi: 10.21809/rilemtechlett.2016.14.