J-STORIES - A Japanese company was the world’s first to successfully mass-produce “self-healing concrete” that can repair its own cracks with the help of bacteria. Now, the same firm is promoting industry-wide decarbonization by licensing its technology to other companies.
Aizawa Concrete Corporation (Tomakomai, Hokkaido), a concrete manufacturer founded more than 85 years ago, acquired the exclusive rights to sell self-healing concrete in Japan from a Dutch university research group in 2017. After conducting a number of demonstration experiments with its Dutch partners, it began mass production.
Self-healing concrete contains bacteria and a food source for them, polylactic acid. When the concrete cracks, water and oxygen enter and activate the dormant bacteria. The bacteria then feed and produce calcium carbonate, which fills the cracks. Many buildings made with concrete need to be rebuilt after 50 to 60 years, but the life of the bacteria individual is said to be 200 years, but ability for healing is kept consistently in the self-healing concrete inside to repeat division each activation, and to be reborn, and it is to a virtual "eternity structure."
Cracks are a major cause of concrete deterioration and it’s essential to repair them to extend the life of a building. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide produced during the manufacture of cement, (the material used to make concrete), accounts for about 8 percent of global emissions. By helping buildings last longer, the company’s self-healing concrete could be a key way to reduce carbon emissions.
Aizawa wants to expand these efforts to its entire industry. So, this January, the company’s board of directors set a “Net Zero 2035” goal of virtually zero carbon emissions in all product supply chains — including suppliers, distributors and recyclers — by 2035, the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding.
The company has stated in a news release that it will enable comprehensive technology transfer of its proprietary efforts, such as its own materials-based decarbonization technology and blockchain-based greenhouse gas emissions management, when requested by other companies in its industry. The supply chain covered by Net Zero 2035 includes many companies overseas as well as in Japan.
CEO Yoshihiro Aizawa explained the meaning behind the company’s actions to J-Stories. In the process of trying to achieve decarbonization, “it is the responsibility of those who first become aware of the issue to tell as many people as possible, and not only to talk about it, but also take action themselves,” he said. “By expanding this group of partners, the world will gradually change.” He said that he wants the cement concrete industry to become “an absolutely indispensable industry” in this era of decarbonization.
Translation and Editing by Tony McNicol
Top page photo by bilanol/Envato
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