Providing infrastructure equipped with materials that can “look after themselves”, self-diagnosing a potential threat and responding with an immediate “cure” without any external intervention will have an enormous impact not only on the UK’s economy but across the world.

Our vision for construction materials will further address challenges to facilitate the UK’s transition into a low carbon economy. The concrete industry is a main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to circa 10% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions released in the environment.  In the long term, the proposed self-healing construction materials can indirectly reduce the usage of concrete, providing robust and reliable structures, minimising or even eliminating the need for repair and maintenance over a life-span of up to 120 years.

Cracking in concrete

RM4L will establish the UK as a world leader in this emerging area of intelligent construction materials delivering world-leading research. This will impact directly the construction industry and those responsible for the provision, management and maintenance of the world’s built environment infrastructure by enhancing the value placed on infrastructure materials. First and foremost, the EPSRC investment in RM4L will engender a step-change in UK prosperity spanning over the next 50 years and more. Society can capitalize on the increased level of confidence and reliability in infrastructure design. Future generations will benefit from indirect savings induced by lower expenditure (zero-cost) for maintenance whilst the gradual reduction of cement and concrete use will allow not only for better primary resource management but will also actively reduce CO2 emissions mitigating climate change.

A biomimetic approach in which the material self-controls its own diagnosis and healing