General information

Started: 01/10/2010
Theme: Durable & Sustainable Structural Materials
Program manager: Griet Van Cauwenberghe

Griet Van Cauwenberghe - 200x200

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Contact our program manager Griet Van Cauwenberghe.



  • OCAS *
  • Recticel *
  • Willy Naessens *

Knowledge institutions:

Read more on the SHE content below

* Former members

Self-healing materials

A very interesting group of innovative and smart materials are the so-called self-healing materials, which have the ability to heal damage autonomously.

Although there are few applications in the market today, it is expected that applications of the self-healing concept will show up in all industries. Think for instance about scratches on your smart phone screen that heal by themselves, cracks in a concrete bridge that fill with a self-healing substance to prevent water from entering, scratches in the lacquer of cars, etc.

With the vertical research program SHE, Flanders is taking a leading position in this fast developing area and emerging markets.

The program focuses on three different material classes:

Self-healing material
  • cementitious and mineral building materials: projects SECEMIN, SHEcon, ISHECO and iSAP
  • thermoset polymers and composites: projects SEPOCOM and PUrePAIR
  • Novel active protection systems on metals: projects NAPROM, SHREC and ISHECO

The image below shows the interdependence of the different projects in the program:

SHE: project relations



Fostering breakthrough knowledge and prototype development of iSAP-based concrete to mitigate shrinkage cracking, increase water-tightness, and increase service life through crack healing. Superabsorbent polymers will be developed with the ability to control the moisture level during the internal curing stage of concrete and to induce self-sealing and self-healing upon crack formation.


ISHECO is short for Impact of Self-Healing Engineered materials on steel COrrosion in reinforced concrete. The project centers on the question how self-healing materials can prevent the early degradation of reinforced concrete due to steel corrosion. Three research tracks will be followed: self-healing concrete, self-healing barrier coating on the outer surface of concrete and self-healing coating on the steel inside concrete.


SHREC is the abbreviation of Self-HEaling and REpairing Coatings. The SHREC project looked into the concept of self-healing for coatings both for micro-scratches and for macro-scratches. On the one hand, micro-scratches are healed using incorporation of microcapsules with a self-healing compound. On the other hand, macro-scratches are tackled by use of a shape-memory thermoplastic coating system.


SHEcon stands for Self-HEaling CONcrete for structural and architectural applications. The SHEcon project objective was to develop a concrete for structural and architectural wall panels, which does not develop cracks by the relevant mechanical loads and thermal effects. If cracks do develop, the concrete should react in such a way that the durability of the panels and related components is not impaired.


The word PUrePAIR is an acronym for "polyurethane foams and elastomers with autonomic repair functions". The general purpose of the PUrePAIR ICON project was to develop new and improved polyurethane foams and elastomers with self-healing properties. The self-healing capacity was to be obtained by adding microcapsules with a newly developed chemistry as a healing agent.


The word NAPROM is short for Novel Active PRotection systems on Metals. The overall objective of the SBO project NAPROM was to develop novel active corrosion protection coatings for metals utilizing self-healing organic coatings and corrosion inhibitors, to increase coating life-time and improve active corrosion protection. The NAPROM project was linked to both the ISHECO project and the SHREC project.


The project SEPOCOM focused on self-healing concepts in thermoset polymers and composites. Envisaged innovations: design of polymer-based healing agents, of suitable encapsulation technologies, of the thermoset matrix to increase compatibility with the healing agents, of a multi-step healing system and development of an integrated methodology for self-healing principles in polymers.


SECEMIN: self-healing mechanisms and concepts for cementitious and mineral building materials. Innovation goals: design of dedicated polymer-based healing agents and suitable encapsulation technologies, microorganisms that provide self-generating concrete or stone surfaces, autonomous crack repair in innovative building materials with mineral matrix, validated numerical model to simulate crack healing.

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