Materials Brought to Life – Scientists Create Living Concrete

ID Collaborative blog post

Builders have been making concrete the same way for centuries, and now researchers have created a concrete that is both alive and can reproduce. Minerals in this new material are deposited by cyanobacteria, a type of microbe that captures energy through the process of photosynthesis. This photosynthetic process absorbs carbon dioxide, unlike the production of regular concrete, which emits large quantities of carbon dioxide. When combined with a gel (i.e. gelatin) and put into a mold, many sizes and shapes of blocks can be produced. These photosynthetic bacteria also give the new concrete its color; green! No need to worry, the color fades as the product dries. The living blocks also have the advantage of being made from a variety of materials, not just virgin sand like most concrete. Since the sand comes from rivers, lakes, and oceans, it is running short worldwide due to the high demand for concrete. Since this new material does not have to be made with a specific material, waste materials like recycled concrete and glass could be used. By beginning this journey towards a concrete made from synthetic biology, it paves the way for more possibilities with building materials.