A researcher at the University of Delaware, together with students, discovered that bacteria actively live and multiply in concrete.
The authors of the new work proved that concrete has life, despite its harsh, dry, salty environment and a typical pH level of about 12.5. By comparison, bleach or oven cleaner has the same pH level. Today, concrete is very common as a building material, it is used for buildings, roads, bridges, etc.
In a new study, Julie Maresca, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has shown with students that there are bacterial communities living in concrete that destroy it. The authors studied not only the surface bacteria that appear after pouring, but also those that live inside.
Bacteria that immediately appeared in concrete indicate reactions of alkali and silica: this reaction destroys the concrete. As a rule, this is noticeable only when cracks are formed in the concrete, and before that the destruction remains invisible.
The problem of using concrete can have serious consequences if, for example, a concrete house with people or a bridge on which cars drive begins to collapse. In order to prevent this, the authors study what types of bacteria get into concrete: can it be divided into neutral and dangerous and how to make concrete impossible for the life of bacteria that destroy it. The authors continue their work in this direction.