Biotechnologies and bioinspired materials for the construction industry: an overview


Looking back to less than three centuries of industrialization, responsible for alarming levels of pollution and consumption of non-renewable resources that has led to the exhaustion of the earth's capacity, the humankind only now begins to grasp the overwhelming potential of natural systems. During almost 40 million centuries, Nature has developed materials and processes with optimal performance which are totally biodegradable. Analysis of bioinspired materials requires the knowledge of both biological and engineering principles which are being a part of a large research area termed biotechnology. This hot area is one of the six strategic Key Enabling Technologies that will be funded under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020. This paper reviews the current knowledge on the potential of this emerging field, particularly in the development of materials and technologies for the construction industry. It covers the use of bacteria for enhancing concrete durability and for soil stabilization. It also covers bioinspired tough composite materials, bioinspired adhesives and coatings, and self-cleaning materials. Incorporation of biology basics in the civil engineering curriculum would ease the communication between biologists and civil engineers, helping to foster research on biotechnologies and bioinspired materials for the construction industry.


F. Pacheco-Torgal; J.A. Labrincha

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