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Self-healing soil: Biomimetic engineering of geotechnical structures to respond to damage

Harbottle, Michael John, Lam, Minh-Tri, Botusharova, Stefani and Gardner, Diane Ruth 2014. Self-healing soil: Biomimetic engineering of geotechnical structures to respond to damage. Presented at: 7th International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics, Melbourne, Australia, 9-14 November 2014. Published in: Bouazza, Abdelmalek, Yuen, Sam and Brown, Bruce eds. Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics. Engineers Australia, pp. 1121-1128.

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Abstract

The concept of self-healing, whereby materials such as polymers, composites and cementitious construction materials are able to sense damage or deterioration and regulate, adapt and repair themselves automatically, is applied here to natural and anthropogenic soil structures. Damage in such structures can be difficult to detect and monitor, and will have significant consequences, but maintenance and repair are costly and disruptive. This paper presents an overview of the self-healing concept, its potential within geotechnical engineering and results from preliminary experiments exploring the potential for self-healing through the actions of living organisms such as bacteria. We report a simple experimental example, which demonstrates the potential for bacterial activity in microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation of coarse-grained soils to persist and heal damage. Sands stabilized through calcium carbonate precipitation effected by Sporosarcina pasteurii were sheared and rehealed with only additional supply of nutrients, recovering a proportion of the original strength. This example is a simple demonstration of the ability of living organisms to adapt and respond to damage, and suggests the potential for this ability to be harnessed by engineers to design structures that can heal themselves.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Publisher: Engineers Australia
ISBN: 9781922107237
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2020 06:59
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/72381

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