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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 860006.
  • Second SMARTINCS training school: Last chance to subscribe ! 
  • Outreach and dissemination
  • Follow us on our social media channels
  • News from the consortium
  • Related events 
Second SMARTINCS training school on

We are happy to announce that our second training school, which was postponed due to the pandemic and the concurrent restrictions, can take place from 17 till 22 November 2021.
Non-SMARTINCS members can participate online.
The program can be found below. Closer to the event, the exact schedule along with the zoom-link will be communicated via separate email to registered participants.
PROGRAM Training School 2
Day 1 - 17 November a.m. - Infrastructure Repair Overview
Welcome address
      Abir Al-Tabbaa - University of Cambridge
Infrastructure repair: overview, challenges, materials and techniques
      Daniel Bravin - Penetron
      Liberato Ferrara - Politecnico di Milano
      Mercedes Sánchez Moreno - Universidad de Córdoba

Day 2 - 18 November a.m. - Encapsulation Technology and Applications
Encapsulation techniques 
      Dave Palmer - Micropore Technologies
Encapsulation for self-healing
      Lívia Ribeiro de Souza  - University of Cambridge

      Rami Alghamri - University of Cambridge
Day 3 - 19 November a.m. - Resilient Materials For Life (RM4L)
Overview of RM4L
      Abir Al-Tabbaa - University of Cambridge
      Tony Jefferson - Cardiff University
       RM4L Researchers

Modelling of repair and debonding
      Tony Jefferson - Cardiff University

Day 4 - 22 November a.m. and p.m. - Industry Perspective
      Chrysoula Litina and Colleagues - National Highways 
Outreach and Dissemination
SMARTINCS Open Research Workshop
On the 3rd of May 2021 Ghent University organized the first SMARTINCS Open Research Workshop. By connecting more than 130 people online, the workshop can be defined as a true success!
Experts in self-healing concrete gave presentations on the different self-healing agents, how they are tested, what their influence is on the durability, and in which practical applications they can be used. The coordinator from the EPSRC project RM4L and the coordinator from the H2020 project ReSHEALience introduced their respective projects. Also an overview of the activities of the COST Action SARCOS was presented.
Aside from well-established experts, also the SMARTINCS ESRs gave presentations. These presentations outlined the different research goals of the scientific work packages. These high-level presentations, which already contained some initial research results, were an excellent introduction of the SMARTINCS consortium to the international self-healing community and relevant stakeholders.
In case you missed one of the presentations, visit our YouTube channel where all presentations have been made available.
SMARTINCS was well represented at the International Conference on Advances in Sustainable Construction Materials and Structures, related to the 75th RILEM annual week (29 August - 3 September 2021). Proceedings are not yet out, but below you can catch a glimpse of the work presented by our Project Manager Tim Van Mullem, and three of our ESRs, Davide di Summa, Vanessa Giaretton Cappellesso and Harry Hermawan. 
Influence of self-healing via embedded macrocapsules filled with polyurethane on carbonation of High-Volume Fly Ash mortar
Tim Van Mullem, Arne Sintobin, Philip Van den Heede, Laurence De Meyst, Robby Caspeele, Nele De Belie
Carbon dioxide in the air can react with calcium hydroxide of cementitious materials, thereby reducing the pH. When cracks are present, the carbon dioxide can immediately affect the concrete at the location of the reinforcement, causing corrosion and reducing the service life. Specimens were provided with macrocapsules filled with polyurethane. At the moment that the specimens cracked, the capsules ruptured, and the polyurethane filled and hardened inside the crack. Both pressurized and non-pressurized capsules were studied. The pressurized capsules did not give good results, because the pressurization process increased the risk of premature hardening of the polyurethane in the capsule. On the other hand, the non-pressurized capsules resulted in only half of the carbon dioxide ingress with respect to a reference series.

Sustainability and economic viability of self-healing concrete containing superabsorbent polymers
Davide di Summa, Didier Snoeck, José Roberto Tenório Filho, Philip Van den Heede, Sandra Van Vlierberghe, Nele De Belie, Liberato Ferrara
The use of SuperAbsorbent Polymers (SAPs) blended into the concrete matrix both to reduce the autogenous shrinkage and to promote the autogenous healing has been investigated. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Cost (LCC) methodology are here employed to assess both the ecological and economic profile of this new technology in comparison to a more traditional solution.

Repair of concrete in environments with chlorides or subjected to freeze-thaw scaling

Vanessa Giaretton Cappellesso, Tim Van Mullen, Elke Gruyaert, Kim Van Tittelboom, Nele De Belie.
Crack formation decreases the durability of structures, especially when chloride ions (e.g. associated with freezing temperatures) are present. Many concrete structures may face these conditions, e.g. those placed in marine environment and road infrastructure exposed to freeze-thaw periods with de-icing salts. Repair actions might recover the liquid tightness to a situation before crack occurance. To promote the self-healing capacities it is also possible to incorporate encapsulated repair agents which are able to heal damage when it occurs. A water repellent agent and a sodium silicate solution were applied to self-repair cracks in the current research. Two extreme conditions have been assessed after the healing period, the first referring to continuous immersion in a chloride solution, and the second applying freeze-thaw conditions with de-icing salts.

Self-healing performance of ultra-high performance fiber reinforced concrete with recycled aggregates
Niranjan Prabhu K., Ruben Paul Borg, Estefania Cuenca, Nele De Belie, Liberato Ferrara
The influence of recycled aggregates on the stimulated autogenous self-healing of Ultra-High Performance Fiber Reinforced Concrete (UHPFRC) in wet and dry conditions is investigated in this study. The specimens with recycled UHPC aggregate showed better and longer self-healing than the specimens with natural aggregate, adding to the overall environmental sustainability of the investigated category of materials.

Influence of crystalline admixtures and bacteria on the fresh properties of self-healing concrete 
Harry Hermawan, Peter Minne, Enricomaria Gastaldo Brac, Virginie Wiktor, Pedro Serna Ros, Elke Gruyaert
Self-healing technology enables us to effectively seal the cracks by the introduction of healing agents into fresh concrete mixes. In order to guarantee the successful application of healing agents, the fresh properties of self-healing concrete is evaluated based on the performance at paste level with the considerations of water demand, setting time and compatibility issues with admixtures.
SMARTINCS @ RM4L2020 conference 
From 20 till 22 September, our colleagues from the RM4L consortium (Cardiff, Bath, Bradford and Cambridge University) organized the RM4L2020 conference. Tim Van Mullem, Vanessa Giaretton Cappellesso and Sina Sayadi Moghadam shared their research results. We are proud to announce that Sina Sayadi Moghadam won the best paper prize award in the field of numerical simulations. Congratulations to Sina !

Time dependent micromechanical self-healing model for cementitious material
Sina Sayadi, Iulia Mihai, Anthony Jefferson 
Unsurprisingly, concrete, as the most used construction material, has received considerable attention from the biomimetic research community in order to upgrade ordinary concrete to create a self-healing concrete and understand its behaviour. This research focuses on predicting the mechanical behaviour of self-healing cementitious composite materials by considering different healing rates, as well as different healing case scenarios.
Behind the scene photo of the RM4L conference at Cardiff University. All people in this picture presented their research as well as helped in IT support at the conference. From Left to right: Ismael Justo-Reinoso; Riccardo Maddalena; Muaaz Wright-Syed; Brubeck Freeman; Sina Sayadi
Self-healing bacterial concrete exposed to freezing and thawing associated with chlorides
Vanessa Giaretton Cappellesso, Tim Van Mullen, Elke Gruyaert, Kim Van Tittelboom, Nele De Belie
Exposing self-healing concrete to extreme conditions (such as freezing and thawing cycles) and evaluating its behaviour is one of the first steps in understanding how the self-healing mechanism might perform under realistic conditions. Nevertheless, there are limited studies subjecting self-healing concretes to harsh conditions combining extreme low temperatures and salt attack. Therefore, we concentrate in this study on freezing and thawing conditions with de-icing salts, specifically with sodium chloride. It is an innovative assessment of self-healing concrete including commercially manufactured bacteria as healing agent. The objective is to ensure that autonomous crack healing occurs, restricting chloride ingress, extending the service life, and reducing the effect of degradation. The permeability decreased completely after the freezing and thawing cycles. The bacteria enhanced the properties of the concrete, resulting in less scaling and chloride penetration. However, chloride penetration through the crack could not be prevented.

Evaluation of test methods for self-healing concrete with macrocapsules by inter-laboratory testing
Tim Van Mullem, Giovanni Anglani, Hanne Vanoutrive, Girts Bumanis, Chrysoula Litina, Marta Dudek, Arkadiusz Kwiecien, Abir Al-Tabbaa, Diana Bajare, Teresa Stryszewska, Robby Caspeele, Kim Van Tittelboom, Jean Marc Tulliani, Elke Gruyaert, Paola Antonaci, Nele De Belie
Self-healing of concrete is a promising way to increase the service life of structures. Yet, the lack of standardised test methods hinders the further development and commercialisation of self-healing concrete, due to the fact that it is difficult to compare results of different studies. This paper presents the result of an inter-laboratory testing programme in which six institutes investigated a capillary water absorption test and a water permeability test. All labs obtained comparable results for the water permeability test due to the use of an ‘active’ crack control technique, via which it was possible to adjust the crack width of the samples under the microscope.
SMARTINCS @ European Researchers' Night 2021
The European Researchers’ Night is a research communication and promotion event taking place across EU Member States and Horizon Europe Associated Countries every year on the last Friday of September, which aims to
  • contribute to promoting excellent research projects across Europe and beyond
  • increase awareness among the general public of the importance and benefits of research and innovation and showcase its concrete impact on citizens’ daily life
  • heighten young people’s interest in science and research careers
The European Researchers’ Night makes science accessible to all through activities which combine education with entertainment, such as exhibitions, hands-on experiments, science shows, games, competitions, quizzes and more.
Several of our ESRs contributed to local events. An overview is given below:
European Researchers' Night
WiseNight (Belgium)
In Belgium, Bewise organized WiseNight. A 2-day event to disseminate science and knowledge to a broad audience from kids to experts. SMARTINCS ESRs have played an essential role in this event. Pardis Pourhaji and Harry Hermawan presented the research by booth activities. Vanessa Cappellesso has focused on showing the relevance of women in science by a portrait exhibition and an exciting panel discussion with other Marie-Curie fellows from other projects. During the panel discussion, Vanessa discussed her experience as a Marie-Curie fellow, as well as her experience as a woman in civil engineering. She also gave advice to teenagers who want to do research; in her words: “Anyone can do research and discover new possibilities of the world around us. I enjoy healing its cracks.
European Researchers' Night
La Noche Europea de L@s Investigador@s (Spain)
Suelen da Rocha Gomes participated in the "La Noche Europea de L@s Investigador@s" event "Science at the Bar". Twelve researchers presented in an entertaining and relaxed way their research in the form of micro-talks, on the terrace of a bar. The motivation was to promote close contact with the community and to show how research contributes to improve the quality of life. For Suelen, it was a gratifying and challenging experience. She could explain how the development of more sustainable cementitious materials is relevant to current environmental issues. Moreover, as the only representative of an international project and the only foreigner, she could show how an ITN project such as SMARTINCS allows early stage researchers to be recruited and seconded at different institutes and companies, favoring internationalization of research, and development of their research, transferable and entrepreneurial skills. 
European Researchers' Night
Spinning a Yarn about Chemistry (UK)
Claire Riordan has taken part in one of the UK Researcher’s Night Out Events, hosted by the University of Glasgow. It was called “Spinning a Yarn about Chemistry” and attendees were gifted some yarn and a pattern to knit while they talked about research and chemistry research in particular.
A review of vascular networks for self-healing application
Yasmina Shields, together with her promotors Nele De Belie, Anthony Jefferson and Kim Van Tittelboom, wrote a review paper that provides a comprehensive overview of the current progress and limitations of the design approaches, fabrication methods, healing mechanisms, and relevant applications of embedded vascular networks. 
The article has been published in the journal Smart Materials and Structures and can be found here.
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News from the Consortium
Nele De Belie elected RILEM vice-president
During the 75th RILEM annual week in Merida (hybrid mode), 29 August to 3 September 2021, Prof. Nele De Belie (Department of Structural Engineering and Building Materials, Ghent University) was elected as the new RILEM vice-president.
Every three years, the RILEM Presidency changes: the Outgoing President passes the torch to the new President who in turn passes the torch to the new Vice-President. Nicolas Roussel, current RILEM Vice-President, will be the RILEM President for the next 3 years, while the current president, Ravindra Gettu, is moving to the position of Outgoing President. Nele De Belie, the new RILEM Vice-President, has been the chair of the Technical Activities Committee (TAC) since 2019 and is currently also chairing the RILEM technical committee TC 281-CCC - Carbonation of concrete with supplementary cementitious materials, which has more than 100 members.
RILEM, the International Union of Laboratories and Experts in Construction Materials, Systems and Structures, was founded in June 1947, with the aim to promote scientific cooperation in the area of construction materials and structures (see RILEM currently has around 2400 individual members and 100 corporate members, in 90 countries around the world.
Related events
Our colleagues from the Politecnico di Milano are preparing the next International Conference on Self-Healing Materials, which will take place on 20-22 June 2022. SAVE THE DATE already in your agenda !
Project coordinator:
prof. Nele De Belie
Ghent University - Belgium

Outreach and dissemination coordinator:
prof. Elke Gruyaert
KU Leuven - Belgium
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