Poor soil conditions limit the building of new infrastructure, which is needed for an ageing and expanding population. Current soil strengthening techniques such as chemical grouting have detrimental effects on the environment from greenhouse gas production, soil pH modification and groundwater contamination, therefore there is demand for a sustainable approach to this process. Microbial-induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICCP) is a technique that utilises the ability of bacteria to precipitate calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which can be used for a variety of applications including binding adjacent soil particles and filling the pore spaces of soils to increase mechanical properties. Commonly used bacteria include Sporosarcina pasteurii and Bacillus subtilis. A range of factors influences MICCP which presents challenges with process optimisation. These factors need to be optimised in the laboratory before they can be applied for engineering purposes. The overall aims of my research are to optimise urease production in S. pasteurii and B. subtilis and to investigate the distribution and binding of these bacteria with various sand particles, by means of syringe and glass column set ups. These bacteria will be compared with engineered bacteria which can overproduce urease to investigate the impact on precipitation efficiency. Factors to control bacteria biofilm formation to influence the morphology of CaCO3 will be investigated to determine the impact of various crystal shapes on soil properties. Ultimately, raw data generated from the project will be used for predicting biocementing at a lab scale for building computational models.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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