The First Word in Protective & Marine Coatings

A Product of Technology Publishing / PaintSquare
JPCL | PaintSquare News | Durability + Design | Paint BidTracker

Resource Guide Extreme Temperatures

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

‘BacillaFilla’ is a Crack Fix Thrilla

Monday, October 3, 2011

More items for Surface Preparation

Comment | More

A team of students in the UK has engineered bacteria that can knit together cracks in concrete structures by producing a special glue.

The genetically modified microbe Bacillus subtilis has been programmed to swim deep into fine cracks in concrete after being sprayed on the surface.

 Genetically engineered bacteria produce a glue with reinforcing fibers

 Images: Newcastle University

Genetically engineered bacteria swim to the bottom of the crack and produce a glue with reinforcing fibers.

At the bottom of the crack, the microbes produce a mixture of calcium carbonate and a bacterial glue that combines with the filamentous bacterial cells to “knit” the crack back together, report officials at Newcastle University, where the work has been underway for many months.

Preventing Structural Failure

Ultimately hardening to the same strength as the surrounding concrete, the so-called “BacillaFilla” can prolong the life of structures and may help prevent catastrophic structural failures, university officials said.

The students took a gold medal for their research last year in the International Genetically Engineered Machines contest (iGEM), which drew 130 student teams from around the world to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

 The students earned a gold medal in an international competition
The nine Newcastle University students who developed BacillaFilla earned a gold medal in an international competition for their research.

The discovery could help reduce the environmental toll of concrete production and help restore the structural integrity of cracked concrete.

“Around five percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions are from the production of concrete, making it a significant contributor to global warming,” said Dr. Jennifer Hallinan, a director of the project.

“Finding a way of prolonging the lifespan of existing structures means we could reduce this environmental impact and work towards a more sustainable solution.

“This could be particularly useful in earthquake zones where hundreds of buildings have to be flattened because there is currently no easy way of repairing the cracks and making them structurally sound.”

Germination on Contact

The BacillaFilla spores start germinating only when they make contact with concrete— triggered by the very specific pH of the material—and have a built-in “self-destruct” gene that makes them unable to survive in the environment, the university says.

 A graphic shows the course of BacillaFilla in crack repair
A graphic shows the course of BacillaFilla in crack repair.

Once the cells have germinated, they swarm down the fine cracks in the concrete and are able to sense when they reach the bottom because of the clumping of the bacteria.

This clumping activates concrete repair, with the cells differentiating into three types:

• Cells that produce calcium carbonate crystals;

• Cells that become filamentous, acting as reinforcing fibers; and

• Cells that produce a Levans glue which acts as a binding agent and fills the gap.

The nine students’ backgrounds include computer science, civil engineering, bioinformatics, microbiology and biochemistry.

Professor Neil Wipat called the students’ work “a great achievement” that has become the basis of additional research at the university.


Tagged categories: Concrete; Concrete repair; Research

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Axxiom Manufacturing
The Undisputed
Industry Leader.

Proven Innovation. Job Performance. Industry Training. Workplace Safety. Only Schmidt® abrasive blast equipment by Axxiom Manufacturing delivers it all!

Advanced Recycling Systems

Recycling Machines, Dust Collectors, Rapid Deployment units are time-tested and approved for the rugged industrial environment. Contact ARS today!

Montipower, Inc.
The MBX Bristle Blaster

Get a 2.7 to 3.3 mil profile and a Near White Metal Clean. For info visit or call 877 629-8777

Graco Inc.
Blast with 92% less dust.

Graco EcoQuip Vapor Blast equipment performs as well as dry blasting, but reduces airborne dust up to 92%! Use less media, save money in material and cleanup. See our FREE shipping offer!

CHLOR*RID International Inc.
Free Webinar

Learn about soluble salts, along with a discussion on allowable levels.
More information at,


NLB Corporation
Rotating water jets increase coverage

NLB lance has rotating water jets (40,000 psi), widening the spray pattern to cover more area. Features air-driven swivel with dual triggers to enhance safety.

Corrosion Probe, Inc.
From Detection to Correction

Corrosion Probe, Inc. has the Most Concrete Coatings Experience and Expertise. Contact us today at

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker JPCL Europe

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2014, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail