17:21 09 August 2016
As traditional building materials, such as steel and concrete, become too expensive to transport, produce and maintain, Darpa is now considering a new method that can possibly produce a new class of hybrid building materials.
Under its plan called Engineered Living Materials (ELM) programme, the agency is to combine the structural properties of traditional building materials with the attributes of living systems to produce a new class of hybrid building materials.
Through ELM, the needed materials could be grown onsite, which could reduce the needed energy and costs to produce and transport the materials. As the materials would also contain living elements, they’ll have the ability to self-repair and respond to other changes in the surrounding areas.
ELM program manager Justin Gallivan, said: 'Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we can ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources.
'And, since the materials will be alive, they will be able to respond to changes in their environment and heal themselves in response to damage.'
The project’s long-term goal is to eventually develop a way to engineer structural properties directly into the genomes of biological systems so the desired shape and properties can be achieved organically.