Encapsulation Techniques and Test Methods of Evaluating the Bacteria-Based Self-Healing Efficiency of Concrete: A Literature Review

Rahul Roy 1 , Emanuele Rossi 2 , Johan Silfwerbrand 3  and Henk Jonkers 4
  • 1 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Concrete Structures, , Brinellvägen 23, 100 44, Stockholm
  • 2 Technical University of Delft, Department of Materials & Environment, Faculty of Civil, Engineering & Geosciences, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, The, Netherlands
  • 3 TH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Concrete Structures, , Brinellvägen 23, 100 44, Stockholm
  • 4 Technical University of Delft, Department of Materials & Environment, Faculty of Civil, Engineering & Geosciences, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, The, Netherlands


Crack formation in concrete structures due to various load and non-load factors leading to degradation of service life is very common. Repair and maintenance operations are, therefore, necessary to prevent cracks propagating and reducing the service life of the structures. Accessibility to affected areas can, however, be difficult as the reconstruction and maintenance of concrete buildings are expensive in labour and capital. Autonomous healing by encapsulated bacteria-based self-healing agents is a possible solution. During this process, the bacteria are released from a broken capsule or triggered by water and oxygen access. However, its performance and reliability depend on continuous water supply, protection against the harsh environment, and densification of the cementitious matrix for the bacteria to act. There are vast methods of encapsulating bacteria and the most common carriers used are: encapsulation in polymeric materials, lightweight aggregates, cementitious materials, special minerals, nanomaterials, and waste-derived biomass. Self-healing efficiency of these encapsulated technologies can be assessed through many experimental methodologies according to the literature. These experimental evaluations are performed in terms of quantification of crackhealing, recovery of durability and mechanical properties (macro-level test) and characterization of precipitated crystals by healing agent (micro-level test). Until now, quantification of crack-healing by light microscopy revealed maximum crack width of 1.80mm healed. All research methods available for assesing self-healing efficiency of bacteria-based healing agents are worth reviewing in order to include a coherent, if not standardized framework testing system and a comparative evaluation for a novel incorporated bacteria-based healing agent.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Rajczakowska M, Habermehl-Cwirzen K, Hedlund H & Cwirzen A: “Autogenous selfhealing: A better solution for concrete”. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, V. 31, No. 9, 2019. 03119001-03119001. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)MT.1943-5533.0002764.

  • 2. Mahmoodi S & Sadeghian P: “Self-healing concrete: A review of recent research developments and existing research gaps”. Proceedings, Annual Conference - Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, June, 2019.

  • 3. Khaliq W & Ehsan M: “Crack healing in concrete using various bio influenced selfhealing techniques”. Construction and Building Materials: Part 1, V. 102, 2016, pp. 349-357. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2015.11.006.

  • 4. Tziviloglou E, Wiktor V, Jonkers H & Schlangen E: “Bacteria-based self-healing concrete to increase liquid tightness of cracks”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 122, 2016, pp. 118-125. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.06.080.

  • 5. Erşan Y, Hernandez-Sanabria E, Boon N & De Belie N: “Enhanced crack closure performance of microbial mortar through nitrate reduction”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 70, 2016, pp. 159-170. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2016.04.001.

  • 6. Wiktor V & Jonkers H: “Quantification of crack-healing in novel bacteria-based selfhealing concrete”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 33, No. 7, 2011, pp. 763-770. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2011.03.012.

  • 7. Alazhari M, Sharma T, Heath A, Cooper R & Paine K: “Application of expanded perlite encapsulated bacteria and growth media for self-healing concrete”. Construction & Building Materials, V. 160, 2018, pp. 610-619.

  • 8. Zhang J, Liu Y, Feng T, Zhou M, Zhao L, Zhou A, & Li Z: “Immobilizing bacteria in expanded perlite for the crack self-healing in concrete”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 148, 2017, pp. 610-617. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2017.05.021.

  • 9. Wang J, Van Tittelboom K, De Belie N & Verstraete W: “Use of silica gel or polyurethane immobilized bacteria for self-healing concrete”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 26, No. 1, 2012, pp. 532-540. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2011.06.054.

  • 10. Wang J, Snoeck D, Van Vlierberghe S, Verstraete W & De Belie N.: “Application of hydrogel encapsulated carbonate precipitating bacteria for approaching a realistic selfhealing in concrete”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 68, 2014, pp. 110-119. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2014.06.018.

  • 11. Jianyun E, Arn E, Didier E, Virginie E, Nico E & Nele E: “Application of modifiedalginate encapsulated carbonate producing bacteria in concrete: A promising strategy for crack self-healing”. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2015. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01088.

  • 12. Trenson G: “Application of pH responsive hydrogel encapsulated bacteria for selfhealing concrete”. Doctoral Thesis, Ghent Univ., Ghent, Belgium.

  • 13. Erşan Y, Da Silva F, Boon N, Verstraete W & De Belie N: “Screening of bacteria and concrete compatible protection materials”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 88, 2015, pp. 96-203. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2015.04.027.

  • 14. Bhaskar S, Anwar Hossain K, Lachemi M, Wolfaardt G & Otini Kroukamp M: “Effect of self-healing on strength and durability of zeolite-immobilized bacterial cementitious mortar composites”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 82, 2017, pp. 23-33. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2017.05.01

  • 15. Xu J & Wang X: “Self-healing of concrete cracks by use of bacteria-containing low alkali cementitious material”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 167, 2018, pp. 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2018.02.020.

  • 16. Gupta S, Kua H & Pang S: “Healing cement mortar by immobilization of bacteria in biochar: An integrated approach of self-healing and carbon sequestration”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 86, 2018, pp. 238-254. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2017.11.015.

  • 17. Kua H, Gupta S, Aday A, & Srubar W: “Biochar-immobilized bacteria and superabsorbent polymers enable self-healing of fiber-reinforced concrete after multiple damage cycles”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 100, 2019, pp. 35-52. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2019.03.017.

  • 18. Hammes F & Verstraete W: “Key roles of pH and calcium metabolism in microbial carbonate precipitation”. Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology, V. 1, No. 1, 2002, pp. 3-7. doi:10.1023/A:1015135629155.

  • 19. Schlangen E & Jonkers H: “A two component bacteria-based self-healing concrete”. Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation & Retrofitting II, 2008, pp. 119-120. doi:10.1201/9781439828403.ch27.

  • 20. Van Tittelboom K, De Belie N, De Muynck W & Verstraete W: “Use of bacteria to repair cracks in concrete”. Cement and Concrete Research, V. 40, No. 1, 2010, pp. 157-166. doi:10.1016/j.cemconres.2009.08.025.

  • 21. De Belie N & Wang J: “Bacteria-based repair and self-healing of concrete”. Journal of Sustainable Cement-Based Materials, V. 5, No. 1-2, 2016, pp. 35-56. doi:10.1080/21650373.2015.1077754.

  • 22. Jonkers H: “Bacteria-based self-healing concrete”. Heron - English Edition, V. 56, No. 1-2, 2011, pp. 1-12.

  • 23. Wang J, Soens H, Verstraete W & De Belie N: “Self-healing concrete by use of microencapsulated bacterial spores”. Cement and Concrete Research, V. 56, 2014, pp. 139-152.

  • 24. Danner T & Geiker M R: “Mineralogical sequence of self-healing products in cracked marine concrete”. Minerals, V. 9 No. 5, 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/min9050284

  • 25. Xu H, Lian J, Gao M, Fu D & Yan Y: “Self-healing concrete using rubber particles to immobilize bacterial spores”. Materials, V. 12, No. 14, 2019. doi:10.3390/ma12142313.

  • 26. Huynh N, Phuong N, Toan N & Son N: “Bacillus subtilis hu58 immobilized in micropores of diatomite for using in self-healing concrete”. Procedia Engineering, V. 171, 2017, pp. 598-605. doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2017.01.385.

  • 27. Jinlong Z, Bixia M, Tingwei C, Jiayi L, Wanhan W, Bing L & Xu D: “Optimization of a binary concrete crack self-healing system containing bacteria and oxygen”. Materials, V. 10, No. 2, 2017. doi:10.3390/ma10020116.

  • 28. Zhang J, Wang C, Wang Q, Feng J, Pan W, Zheng X & Deng X: “A binary concrete crack self-healing system containing oxygen-releasing tablet and bacteria and its ca2 - precipitation performance”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, V. 100, No. 24, 2016, pp. 10295-10306.

  • 29. Seifan M, Sarmah A, Ebrahiminezhad A & Ghasemi Y: “Mechanical properties of bio self-healing concrete containing immobilized bacteria with iron oxide nanoparticles”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, V. 102, No. 10, 2018, pp. 4489-4498. doi:10.1007/s00253-018-8913-9.

  • 30. Purwanto H, Nugroho A & Aprilin S: “Study of volcanic-ash-impregnated-bacteria filler to the compressive strength of concrete”. Proceedings, Matec Web of Conferences, 138, 2017. doi:10.1051/matecconf/201713801014.

  • 31. Nafeesa S, Rao A & Siraj U: “Bioimmobilized limestone powder for autonomous healing of cementitious systems: A feasibility study”. Advances in Materials Science and Engineering, 2018. doi:10.1155/2018/7049121.

  • 32. Wang J, Mignon A, Trenson G, Van Vlierberghe S, Boon N & De Belie N: “A chitosan based ph-responsive hydrogel for encapsulation of bacteria for self-sealing concrete”. Cement and Concrete Composites, V. 93, 2018, pp. 309-322. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2018.08.007.

  • 33. Wiboonluk P, Jirapa I, Pitcha J & Suched L: “Evaluation of microencapsulation techniques for micp bacterial spores applied in self-healing concrete”. Scientific Reports, V. 9, No. 1, 2019, pp. 1-10. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-49002-6.

  • 34. Shahid S, Aslam M, Ali S, Zameer M & Faisal M: “Self-healing of cracks in concrete using bacillus strains encapsulated in sodium alginate beads”. Chemistryselect, V. 5, No. 1, 2020, pp. 312-323. doi:10.1002/slct.201902206.

  • 35. Palin D, Wiktor V & Jonkers H M: “A bacteria-based self-healing cementitious composite for application in low-temperature marine environments”. (2017). Biomimetics, V. 2, No. 4, 2017, p. 13. doi:10.3390/biomimetics2030013.

  • 36. Hosseini Balam N, Mostofinejad D & Eftekhar M: “Effects of bacterial remediation on compressive strength, water absorption, and chloride permeability of lightweight aggregate concrete”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 145, 2017, pp. 107-116. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2017.04.003.

  • 37. Xu J, Wang X & Wang B: “Biochemical process of ureolysis-based microbial caco3 precipitation and its application in self-healing concrete”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, V. 102, No. 7, 2018, pp. 3121-3132. doi:10.1007/s00253-018-8779-x.

  • 38. Wang J, De Belie N & Verstraete W: “Diatomaceous earth as a protective vehicle for bacteria applied for self-healing concrete”. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, V 39, No. 4, 2012, pp. 567-77. doi:10.1007/s10295-011-1037-1.

  • 39. Chen H, Qian C & Huang H: “Self-healing cementitious materials based on bacteria and nutrients immobilized respectively”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 126, 2016, pp. 297-303. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.09.023.

  • 40. Xu J & Yao W: “Multiscale mechanical quantification of self-healing concrete incorporating non-ureolytic bacteria-based healing agent”. Cement and Concrete Research, V. 64, 2014, pp. 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.cemconres.2014.06.003.

  • 41. Seifan M, Ebrahiminezhad A, Ghasemi Y & Berenjian A: “Microbial calcium carbonate precipitation with high affinity to fill the concrete pore space: Nanobiotechnological approach”. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, V. 42, No. 1, 2019, pp. 37-46. doi:10.1007/s00449-018-2011-3.

  • 42. Seifan M, Sarmah A, Ebrahiminezhad A & Ghasemi Y: “Bio-reinforced self-healing concrete using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 102(5), V. 102, No. 5, 2018, pp. 2167-2178. doi:10.1007/s00253-018-8782-2.

  • 43. Jadhav U, Lahoti M, Chen Z, Qiu J, Cao B & Yang E: “Viability of bacterial spores and crack healing in bacteria-containing geopolymer”. Construction and Building Materials, V. 169, 2018, pp. 716-723. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2018.03.039.

  • 44. Jonkers H, Thijssen A, Muyzer G, Copuroglu O & Schlangen E: “Application of bacteria as self-healing agent for the development of sustainable concrete”. Ecological Engineering, 36(2), V 36, No. 2, 2010, pp. 230-235. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2008.12.036.

  • 45. Liu F, Li J & Zhang X: “Bioplastic production from wastewater sludge and application”. Proceedings, IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 344, 2019, 012071.

  • 46. Arikan E B, & Ozsoy H D: “A Review: Investigation of Bioplastics”. Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture, V. 9, No. 2, 2015. 02/28/2015.

  • 47. Hornbostel K & Geiker M R: “Influence of cracking on reinforcement corrosion”. Proceedings, Nordic Workshop on “Crack width calculations methods for large concrete structures”. (M Engen & R Tan, Editors). Oslo, Norway, 2019.

  • 48. Hager M D, van der Swaag S & Schubert U S (Ed): “Self-healing materials”. Springer International Publishing, 2016. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/12_2015_332.


Journal + Issues