From waste to self-healing concrete: A proof-of-concept of a new application for polyhydroxyalkanoate

Chris M. Vermeer*, Emanuele Rossi, Jelmer Tamis, Henk M. Jonkers, Robbert Kleerebezem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
303 Downloads (Pure)


Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production is a promising opportunity to recover organic carbon from waste streams. However, widespread application of waste-derived PHA as biodegradable plastic is restricted by expensive purification steps, high quality requirements, and a fierce competition with the conventional plastic market. To overcome these challenges, we propose a new application for waste-derived PHA, using it as bacterial substrate in self-healing concrete. Self-healing concrete is an established technology developed to overcome the inevitable problem of crack formation in concrete structures, by incorporating a so-called bacteria-based healing agent. Currently, this technology is hampered by the cost involved in the preparation of this healing agent. This study provides a proof-of-concept for the use of waste-derived PHA as bacterial substrate in healing agent. The results show that a PHA-based healing agent, produced from PHA unsuitable for thermoplastic applications, can induce crack healing in concrete specimens, thereby reducing the water permeability of the cracks significantly compared to specimens without a healing agent. For the first time these two emerging fields of engineering, waste-derived PHA and self-healing concrete, both driven by the need for environmental sustainability, are successfully linked. We foresee that this new application will facilitate the implementation of waste-derived PHA technology, while simultaneously supplying circular and potentially more affordable raw materials for self-healing concrete.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105206
Number of pages9
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Niche application
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoate
  • Self-healing concrete
  • Value chain development
  • Waste-derived materials

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