Drivers the world over may soon have respite from potholes and cracks in the road. Scientists from the universities of Bath, Cambridge and Cardiff have come up with a novel and innovative solution to plugging gaps and holes in roads and highways. They have created a bacteria-filled concrete to prevent cracks in a road from becoming larger. The concrete is full of bacteria that open when water seeps into a crack. The bacteria burst open and inject limestone into the crack, thus filling and repairing it to avert more serious damage. The scientists believe their discovery could considerably increase the lifespan of roads, reduce repairs, and lower roadwork costs by up to 50 per cent.
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The new concrete could be good news for the environment. Scientists estimate that over seven per cent of the world's CO2 emissions come from the production of cement. If less cement is needed to repair roads, there will be fewer pollutants entering the atmosphere. Another benefit of the new cement is a reduction in accidents, injuries and deaths that result from potholes. Thousands of motorists and pedestrians worldwide are killed because drivers swerve to avoid holes in roads. There is also good news for local governments. In Britain alone, at least 40,000 drivers a year claim compensation for damages to their car caused by potholes. The concrete could be put to use in the next 20 years.