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  (Source: Handyguys Podcast)

UK microbiologist Jennifer Hallinan wants to put her super hard rod (Bacillus) bacteria into concrete's tight cracks.  (Source: Flickr)
New technology could repair earthquake, aging, and road-wear damage

After many long, hard days of work, researchers at University of Newcastle feel they are nearly ready to put their special bacteria into concrete's dirty cracks.

If you look at the average city street it is chock full of gaping potholes and many a crack.  The researchers are taking advantage of bacterial life's wonderful diversity and its ability to rapidly evolve to plug up these dirty holes, preventing them from damaging vehicles.

The thrust of the research is to optimize the tiny microbes -- "BacillaFilla" -- to produce a super-hard rod-shaped bacterial skeleton reinforced by calcium carbonate and a special bacterial "glue".  What might surprise some is that the bacteria has very pedestrian origins, being derived from
Bacillus subtilis, a common soil bacteria.

When the genetically modified critters come into contact with some hole or crack in a specific pH of concrete, they germinate, plunge as deep into it as they can (via so-called "quorum sensing"), and start procreating.  At a certain point, though, the colony is genetically programmed to self-destruct to avoid a sloppy mess of artificial concrete.

The resulting plug is reportedly as strong as standard concrete.

Jennifer Hallinan, a research fellow in complex systems at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom says the material could be valuable, not only to roads, but also to buildings, particularly those affected by aging or earthquakes.  She states, "Finding a way of prolonging the lifespan of existing structures means we could reduce this environmental impact and work towards a more sustainable solution.  This could be particularly useful in earthquake zones where hundreds of buildings have to be flattened because there is currently no easy way of repairing the cracks and making them structurally sound."

Ms. Hallinan is a pretty prolific scientific author, and one of her reports on the microbes published at a biology conference is available here [PDF].  While publication is one goal of her team, ultimately their invention could be incredible financially lucrative as well.

So next time you see a dirty crack, don't despair.  The University of Newcastle is hard at work designing a solution to plug it up.



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RE: Huh?
By MrBlastman on 11/18/2010 12:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
Stiff crowd we have here today. All he was trying to crack a joke and instead, you accuse him of trying ramrod his agenda down our (deep) throats.

Geeze.

She could be into strap-ons for all we know...


RE: Huh?
By Anoxanmore on 11/18/2010 1:04:18 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
by MrBlastman on November 18, 2010 at 12:39 PM

She could be into strap-ons for all we know...


Oh I hope so ;) Purrrr


RE: Huh?
By Samus on 11/18/2010 7:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
English girls love it in the butt. Thom Yorke said so...would he lie?


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