Soil cement can destroy bacteria and fungi, new research has found.
In a study published today in Nature Communications, the researchers from New Zealand and Australia demonstrated that the cement used in cement factories is highly acidic, making it extremely effective against bacteria and other microbes.
“The study has major implications for cement production, since this is the first time that a high acidity has been used in a concrete production process,” says lead author Dr Michael S. Leitch of the University of Auckland.
The researchers tested concrete from the same company that makes cement for the UK’s Great Barrier Reef.
The scientists poured concrete into two containers, and then allowed the water to pool on top of them for 10 minutes.
They then used a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, water and acetone to dissolve the cement, which they then exposed to air to test for the bacteria.
They found that the mixture of acids and alkalis produced by the cement was a strong acidity, making them more effective at killing bacteria and mold.
“We have previously shown that a combination of a high degree of acidity and alkali will result in a strong and stable concrete structure,” Dr Leitch says.
“This new study shows that this acidity also works as an effective acid deterrent.”
The researchers also found that cement was more likely to survive in the environment than concrete from other types of cement.
“There are many types of concrete, but there is a clear class of cement that has been a staple of industry for more than a century, so this study is really exciting,” Dr S.C. Darnell says.
The findings suggest that cement production is one of the most important industries in the world, and is an important source of water for the country.
The study is the culmination of several years of work by Dr Leitches team, including experiments that showed that acidity is not only a good thing for cement, but also has an important effect on soil microbes.
It also provides insight into how acidified concrete can kill microbes.
The work was funded by the New Zealand Government.
The research was also supported by the Government of New Zealand.
The Australian paper will be published in a special issue of the journal Nature Communications.
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For a detailed explanation of how the research was carried out, read the Nature Communications article.