Bacillus Subtilis as Self-Healing Agent in Cement Mortar: The Effect of Curing Time and Amount of Calcium Lactate on Strength
Crack growth is a major cause of failure in structures that are made using cement and concrete. Healing of these cracks can increase the life span of structures. In the present study micro-organism based self-healing of structures is studied. A commonly occurring micro-organism bacterium called Bacillus Subtilis, is used in the manufacturing of cement mortar blocks as a self-healing agent for cement mortar blocks, with the use of Calcium Lactate as feed for bacteria. In the first step, colonies of Bacillus Subtilis were grown and added with calcium lactate to produce a solution. The solution was then kept for one week to observe the metabolic product of Bacillus Subtilis. It was found that the bacterial product was composed of CaCO3 and thus the bacteria is suitable to be used as self-healing agent. Self-healing cement mortar blocks were made by adding Bacteria and Calcium Lactate with usual ingredients of cement mortar, i.e. cement, sand and water. It was found that the bacteria were also effective in converting Calcium Lactate to Calcium Carbonate, when mixed in cement mortar blocks. It was observed that the pores of cement mortar blocks were filled by Calcium Carbonate and that cracks get healed by the deposition of Calcium Carbonate in the cracks. Cement mortar blocks, with and without healing agent, were made to compare the effect of curing time. The samples were tested after seven, fourteen and twenty-eight days to compare the effect of healing agent. All the samples with the healing agent showed a higher compressive strength in comparison with the samples that were made without healing agent. Different percentages of Calcium Lactate, ranging from 1-7% were also used to find the best composition for future use. It was found that the compressive strength was increasing up to 5% while above 5% the increase was marginal thus it is proposed that Calcium Lactate should be used in between 5-7 % to reduce the cost of self-healing cement in construction industry.