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Putting forward an innovative approach to solving current technological problems faced by human society, this book encompasses a holistic way of perceiving the potential of natural systems. Nature has developed several materials and processes which both maintain an optimal performance and are also totally biodegradable, properties which can be used in civil engineering.

Delivering the latest research findings to building industry professionals and other practitioners, as well as containing information useful to the public, ‘Biotechnologies and Biomimetics for Civil Engineering’ serves as an important tool to tackle the challenges of a more sustainable construction industry and the future of buildings.



Chapter 1. Introduction to Biotechnologies and Biomimetics for Civil Engineering

This chapter starts with an overview on the sustainable development crucial challenges. The ones directly or indirectly related to the field of civil engineering are highlighted. These include greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to the energy consumption of the built environment, aggravated by urbanization forecast expansion, and the recent increase in building cooling needs due to climate change. It also includes the depletion of nonrenewable raw materials and mining-related environmental risks in terms of biodiversity conservation, air pollution, and contamination of water reserves. Some shortcomings of engineering curriculum to address sustainable development challenges (especially civil engineering) are described. Possible contributions of biotechnologies and biomimetics to sustainable development and the rebirth of civil engineering curriculum are suggested. A book outline is also presented.
F. Pacheco-Torgal

Chapter 2. Basics of Construction Microbial Biotechnology

Construction Microbial Biotechnology is a new area of science and engineering that includes microbially-mediated construction processes and microbial production of construction materials. Low cost, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly microbial cements, grouts, polysaccharides, and bioplastics are useful in construction and geotechnical engineering. Construction-related biotechnologies are based on activity of different microorganisms: urease-producing, acidogenic, halophilic, alkaliphilic, denitrifying, iron- and sulfate-reducing bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae, microscopic fungi. The bio-related materials and processes can be used for the bioaggregation, soil biogrouting and bioclogging, biocementation, biodesaturation of water-satured soil, bioencapsulation of soft clay, biocoating, and biorepair of the concrete surface. Construction Microbial Biotechnology is progressing toward commercial products and large-scale applications. The biotechnologically produced materials and construction-related microbial biotechnologies have a lot of advantages over conventional construction materials and processes.
V. Ivanov, J. Chu, V. Stabnikov

Chapter 3. General Aspects of Biomimetic Materials

Natural materials like bone, ligaments, wood, shells, and scales are remarkably efficient in terms of fulfilling complex and multiple functional requirements with minimal amounts of matter. Mimicking design features found in these biomaterials like hierarchical structure and composite nature, and resorting to bio-inspired manufacturing processes like biomineralization and self-assembly could yield man-made materials that are multifunctional, lightweight, benign, and recyclable. More specifically, the incorporation of many of the characteristics and properties found in natural materials into paints, coatings, films, concrete, glass, ceramics, fibers, and insulation has the potential to revolutionize the way infrastructures and buildings are constructed. This chapter provides a concise coverage of the area of biomimetic materials. A brief outline of the discipline is followed by a discussion of general aspects related to the structure and synthesis of natural materials. Next, the recent progress made in the development of biomimetic materials with improved mechanical resistance, optical, self-cleaning, adhesiveness, and anti-adhesion properties is reviewed with reference made to the most noteworthy examples.
P. M. M. Pereira, G. A. Monteiro, D. M. F. Prazeres

Chapter 4. Can Biomimicry Be a Useful Tool for Design for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation?

As professionals of the built environment need to solve more urgent and difficult problems related to mitigating and adapting to climate change, it may be useful to examine examples of how the same problems have been solved by other living organisms or ecosystems. Looking to plants or animals that are highly adaptable or ones that survive in extreme climates or through climatic changes may provide insights into how buildings could or should function. Examining the qualities of ecosystems that enable them to be adaptable and resilient may also offer potential avenues to follow. This chapter examines whether biomimicry, where organisms or ecosystems are mimicked in human design, can be an effective means to either mitigate the causes of climate change the built environment is responsible for, or to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Different biomimetic approaches to design are discussed and categorised, and a series of case study examples illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. In light of the conclusions reached during the course of the research, it is argued that design that mimics ecosystems and utilises synergies between mitigation and adaptation strategies in relation to climate change could be a beneficial long-term biomimetic built environment response to climate change. The foundations of the theory to support this are also presented.
Maibritt Pedersen Zari

Chapter 5. Bio-inspired Adaptive Building Skins

How do living organisms capture, convert, store and process energy, water and sunlight? How does nature cool down, heat up, provide shade, and control light? Adaptability, the ability of a system to act in response to variations in environmental conditions often plays a key role in this context. Unlike living organisms, buildings are typically conceived as static, inanimate objects. Because a building’s surroundings and internal conditions are constantly changing, there is a lot to learn about how inspiration from nature can foster more adaptability of the façade for enhanced building performance. After highlighting the need for more adaptability in the built environment, this chapter reviews state-of-the-art examples of research concepts and design applications with bio-inspired adaptable solutions for the building envelope. All examples are in the scope of building physics and energy efficiency with a focus on improving indoor environmental quality. The chapter concludes with an outlook of design support methodologies that can potentially incite the practical uptake of bio-inspired adaptive building skins in the future.
R. C. G. M. Loonen

Chapter 6. A Green Building Envelope: A Crucial Contribution to Biophilic Cities

Throughout history, greening of outside walls and roofs of buildings has taken place. Reasons for doing so were the increase of insulation (keep cool in summer and keep cold out in winter), improved esthetics, improved indoor and outdoor climate, adsorption of particulate matter (PMx), as well as increasing ecological values by creating habitats for birds and insects. Green façades and living walls systems can improve the (local) environment in cities. They offer more surfaces with vegetation and, at the same time, contribute to the improvement of the thermal performance of buildings. Although in the past, relatively little attention has been paid to these valuable opportunities of vegetation and its interaction with buildings. More and more attention is shifted to these so-called beneficial relations in especially dense urban areas, which can be considered as deserts in biological terms. This movement from a biophilic perspective point of view includes combining nature and natural elements in the built environment to ameliorate the negative impact of climate change as for example loss of biodiversity, mitigation of urban heat, or air pollution reduction.
Marc Ottelé

Chapter 7. Architectural Bio-Photo Reactors: Harvesting Microalgae on the Surface of Architecture

This chapter presents innovative construction systems developed by the authors, integrated into the surfaces of cities and architecture—facades, roofs and pavements—giving them a supplement to traditional construction, aesthetic and enclosure, for the production of bio-energy. These systems allow the movement of fluids with microalgae, becoming Architectural Photo-Bioreactors that, by absorbing sunlight and converting it through photosynthesis of microalgae, produce biomass, biogas, bio-fertilizers and other value-added products to the pair that captures CO2. The grand innovation of the project is the combination of two fields, constructive and biological, highly disruptive and uniquely for a sustainable city in a holistic view of energy, for growing algae in architecture.
Rosa Cervera Sardá, Javier Gómez Pioz

Chapter 8. Reducing Indoor Air Pollutants Through Biotechnology

Indoor environmental quality is a growing concern, as populations become more urbanised and people spend a greater proportion of their lives indoors. Volatile organic compounds outgassing from synthetic materials and carbon dioxide from human respiration have been major indoor air quality concerns. The growing use of energy-efficient recirculating ventilation solutions has led to greater accumulation of these pollutants indoors. A range of physiochemical methods have been developed to remove contaminants from indoor air, but all methods have high maintenance costs and none reduce CO2, which some biological systems can achieve effectively with the additional benefit of the self-sustaining capacity of biological material. Bacteria are the major organisms involved in bioremediation of VOCs, although green plants may help sustain the bacterial community and add the capacity for CO2 reduction to a system. The main problems faced by indoor air bioremediation systems is the extremely low concentrations of VOCs present indoors and the possibility of microbial release. Simple, passive biofiltration with potted green plants may be the simplest and most effective system for indoor air cleaning, but further research into substrate types, ventilation, and the microbiology of biodegradation processes is required to reveal their ultimate potential. Purely microbial systems have potential for the bioamelioration of high concentrations of toxic gases, but not without significant maintenance costs. Despite many years of study and substantial market demand, a proven formula for indoor air bioremediation for all applications is yet to be developed.
Fraser R. Torpy, Peter J. Irga, Margaret D. Burchett

Chapter 9. Bioinspired Self-cleaning Materials

Among nature-inspired phenomena, the interactions of nanostructured surfaces with water are probably the most studied ones, as well as the most mimicked by science: geckos and spiders that can stick on smooth surfaces, beetles that collect fog in the desert, gerridae that walk on water—which is the reason why they are also called water striders, or pond skaters; all of these creatures owe their characterizing properties to the influence of surface nanostructuring on their affinity to water. Still, the most popular example of “nature-created” nanotechnology is the self-cleaning one, given by the onset of either superhydrophilicity, superhydrophobicity, or superoleophobicity. This is allowed by particular conditions of surface (photo)chemistry and structuring: the former is typical of TiO2-containing surfaces, while the latter is based on the formation of air layers between water and the surface nanometric protrusions, preventing the liquid from wetting it. This chapter is dedicated to the mechanisms underlying bioinspired self-cleaning and to the fields of application of these effects.
Maria Vittoria Diamanti, MariaPia Pedeferri

Chapter 10. Bio-inspired Bridge Design

This chapter reviews the development of the bio-inspired concept on bridge design in the past two decades from two major forms: stationary forms and movable forms. The objective is to show how the inspiration from the biological world has influenced recent bridge designs and discusses how the bio-inspired idea could transform into a new language for the future bridge design industry. Four major challenges of the marriage between biology and engineering were discussed and latest endeavor on each aspect are presented. Thus, a close multidisciplinary collaboration may help engineers build more sustainable and smart structural systems for bridges in the twenty-first century.
Nan Hu, Peng Feng

Chapter 11. Bio-inspired Sensors for Structural Health Monitoring

Structural systems are susceptible to damage throughout their operational lifetime. Thus, structural health monitoring technologies and, in particular, sensors that could monitor structural performance and detect damage are needed. While there exist a variety of different sensing platforms, this continues to be an active area of research due to the many challenges associated with identifying and quantifying structural damage, which is inherently very complex. This chapter discusses an emerging area of sensors research in which sensor design or functionality is inspired by biological systems. By borrowing concepts from and learning how nature’s creations sense and interact with its environment, the goal is to create novel sensors with unparalleled performance as compared to the current state-of-art. This chapter is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review on this topic. Rather, only a small selection of published work is sampled and presented to showcase different ideas and the breadth of research. Topics ranging from bio-inspired algorithms, creature-like robots, and skin-like sensors are presented.
Kenneth J. Loh, Donghyeon Ryu, Bo Mi Lee

Chapter 12. Bio-inspired, Flexible Structures and Materials

This chapter discusses the potential of biomimetics in formfinding and the development of structural systems based on constant or reversible elastic deformation. The existence of high strength elastic materials are the preconditions for the technical realisation of such elastic structures. Therefore, this chapter will start by introducing elastic building materials and biomimetic abstraction techniques individually before bringing the two together by presenting case studies which successfully combined both aspects.
J. Lienhard, S. Schleicher, J. Knippers

Chapter 13. Bioinspired Concrete

New bioinspired cement can be used to form artificial limestone aggregate for concrete, as well as cement for the binding phase of concrete. Amorphous calcium carbonate precursors were first used in combination with unstable calcium phosphates to form high strength, rapid setting carbonated calcium phosphate cements, similar to the mineral phase of bone. Later, these amorphous calcium carbonate precursors and other unstable polymorphs of calcium carbonate were used in combination to form calcium carbonate cements with high strength and other advantageous properties. In the last decade, mechanisms to use the carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels were developed, allowing very large quantities of calcium carbonate cementing precursor materials to be formed, making it a foreseeable reality that new concrete mixes comprising calcium carbonate, both as the aggregate component and the cementing phase of concrete can be establish broadly on a worldwide basis. Calcium carbonate concrete compositions enable a sustainable pathway for concrete as a construction material.
Brent R. Constantz, Mark A. Bewernitz, Christopher L. Camiré, Seung-Hee Kang, Jacob Schneider, Richard R. Wade

Chapter 14. Production of Bacteria for Structural Concrete

This chapter reviews a novel, green and economical concrete based on microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP). Microbial or bacterial concrete is product of MICP, produced by ureolytic bacteria, requires much less energy to produce. Such bacteria are abundant in nature in almost every environment and can be reproduced at fast rate at low cost. Calcium carbonate precipitated during the process of MICP might help building materials and structures by improving compressive strength and impermeability, and ultimately their durability. Harnessing this novel process of biogeochemistry may bring in enormous economical benefits to construction industries and will open a new door to the research in the arena of geotechnical and structural engineering. This chapter critically reviews the production and mechanism of MICP. Further, a thorough understanding of the research in the area of microbial-based cementitious materials, which lead to improving the durability of building materials and structures, has been discussed.
Varenyam Achal

Chapter 15. Bacteria for Concrete Surface Treatment

Bacterial induced calcium carbonate deposition, i.e., biodeposition is a widespread natural process, occurring under different conditions in the biosphere. For the moment, biodeposition has been investigated extensively both in natural processes and under laboratory conditions. Biodeposition has led to the exploration in the field of construction materials and has been studied in detail with numerous applications in civil engineering. Various mechanisms of bacterial induced deposition have been proposed. Biodeposition can be influenced by the environmental physicochemical conditions, and it is correlated with both the metabolic activity and the cell surface structures of bacteria. Surface treatment of concrete materials and structures by means of biodeposition, i.e., a bacterially deposited carbonate layer presents a promising novel biotechnology for the enhancement or improvement of durability of concrete materials and structures. Biodeposition make bacterial concrete, a novel most important metabolic byproduct, can remediate concrete structures. This chapter reviews the main mechanisms of the process and literature on biodeposition carbonates as surface treatment agents for the decrease in permeability of concrete materials and structures, bacterial induced carbonates as a binder material, i.e., biocementation, have been added to concrete for the improvement of compressive strength and the remediation of concrete surface cracks. The chapter suggests potential applications of biodeposition as an ecological and novel alternative to traditional techniques in subsurface remediation of concrete structures and accordingly enhancement in their service life.
Peihao Li, Wenjun Qu

Chapter 16. A Case Study: Bacterial Surface Treatment of Normal and Lightweight Concrete

Bacterial surface treatments for concrete have become increasingly popular due to their strong potential to improve the durability of concrete structures for practical usage. Compared to bacteria inoculated into the cement matrix, it is easier to provide the proper environment for bacteria when the bacteria are applied onto the surface of the concrete. Moreover, the bacterial surface treatment method has a number of advantages in comparison with conventional surface treatment methods using polymer-based coating materials, including water repellents or pore-blockers. Three advantages are as follows: (1) a similar thermal expansion property between the microbially precipitated calcium carbonate and the concrete surface, (2) environmentally friendly characteristics, and (3) the potential for self-healing. A surface treatment, especially for lightweight concrete, is very important to ensure good durability, as the durability of lightweight concrete is generally lower than that of normal concrete. In the present chapter, a previous work of the authors, a study of the bacterial surface treatment of normal and lightweight concrete (Kim et al. 2013) is reviewed and summarized. The surfaces of normal and lightweight concrete specimens were treated with a liquid medium containing bacteria. Macro- and micrographic assessments were done to analyze the shapes and distribution of the calcium carbonate crystals. The capillary water absorption of the concrete specimens was measured to evaluate the effects of the bacterial precipitation of calcium carbonate on the moisture transport properties, as these properties were thought to affect the durability of the concrete.
H. K. Kim, H. K. Lee

Chapter 17. Biotechnological Aspects of Soil Decontamination

Soils have been subjected to several contaminants that vary in concentration and composition. Soil pollution causes significant damage to the environment and human health as a result of their mobility and solubility. Significant progress has been made in regulating soil pollution, with a parallel development of methodologies for soil assessment and remediation. The selection of most appropriate soil and sediment remediation method depends on the site characteristics, concentration, type of pollutants to be removed, and the end use of the contaminated medium. This chapter provides the developing biotechnological aspects of soil decontamination. The study also reviews other available remediation options, which includes physical, chemical, and thermal technologies. All these technologies may be used in conjunction with one another to reduce the contamination to an acceptable level, and may offer potential technical solution to most soil pollution.
V. Sheoran, A. Sheoran

Chapter 18. Microbial Fuel Cells for Wastewater Treatment

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are the bioelectrochemical systems, have been developed rapidly over the past few decades and are considered as a promising technique to obtain renewable resources from wastewater. MFCs can be used to harness electricity from microorganisms during wastewater treatment. This chapter reviews recent literature on MFCs for wastewater treatment. We first introduce the concept of MFCs and summarize the materials and design of MFCs afterward. It shows that through innovative materials and design, the current density of MFCs has been greatly improved during the last decade. Microorganisms play a major role in the electricity production of MFCs and therefore, an in-depth discussion of the microbiology of MFCs was also included in this chapter. Extensive studies on exoelectrogenic bacteria and consortia are beginning to expose the mechanistic and ecological complexities of MFC biofilm communities. Yet, our understanding of electrochemically active microbes is still in its infancy, as the diverse communities have a multitude of undiscovered populations in different MFC applications. Further study is warranted to optimize design, materials, and microbiology to improve electricity recovery from MFCs.
Cuijie Feng, Subed Chandra Dev Sharma, Chang-Ping Yu
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