Znak Politechniki Warszawskiej

Self-healing roads

Photo of gelatin microcapsules containing the healing agent capable of sealing microcracks in road surface.

Scientists in the Faculty of Civil Engineering have designed gelatin microcapsules containing the healing agent capable of sealing microcracks in road surface.

It sounds like dreams of drivers and road administrators come true. Our scientists are contributing to the project. Research is underway.

The project “Development and implementation of an innovative technology for asphalt self-healing pavements of high durability” is an effect of an agreement between Warsaw University of Technology (faculties of Civil Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering) and Budimex S.A. (the leader of the project), signed in 2019.

“The idea for this innovative solution is that when microcracks appear in the asphalt surface in use, the microcapsules embedded in it will be torn apart by tensile stresses, releasing the healing agent which will in turn seal the microcracks,” says Michał Sarnowski, PhD (Civil Engineering Faculty), the project manager on the side of WUT. “This is the way the surface will heal, not allowing macrocracks to develop, which phenomenon might result in degradation of the entire surface structure.

Key role of microcapsules

The Civil Engineering Faculty’s role in the project is to design microcapsules (microspheres) containing a special healing agent and to develop a method of their use in asphalt mixtures used to pave road surfaces.

“As a result of numerous experiments in out faculty we have designed gelatin microcapsules containing a healing agent in the form of bioesters,” says Michał Sarnowski. “We have tested the properties of asphalt mixtures containing such microspheres, confirming the ability of the microcapsules to explode releasing the healing agent where microcracks occur in the asphalt binder.”

Testing the asphalt mixtures containing asphalt with microcapsules are underway. The next stage will be continuation of these tests on a semi-technical scale in Budimex’s laboratories.

Research infrastructure of a newly-established Advanced Functional Research into Asphalt Mixtures Laboratory, which is part of Department of Road Construction Technology at the Civil Engineering Faculty is used in the project.

Advanced microscopy and tomography methods are used to evaluate the samples of the mixtures. This is the scope of responsibility of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering.

Road tests

The scientific research project is at the stage of industrial (laboratory) research, and in December of 2021 it will enter the phase of development research, in which road test sections will be built with use of the innovative technology developed. At this stage Warsaw University of Technology will be responsible for examining the surface samples and assessing the self-healing effect on a real scale.

The project is planned to end in the second quarter of 2023.


The project “Development and implementation of an innovative technology for asphalt self-healing pavements of high durability” (SeHePa – Self Healing Pavements) is carried out as part of a competition held by the National Centre for Research and Development – Intelligent Development Program (NCBR – POIR).

Consortium: Budimex S.A. (leader) and Warsaw University of Technology

Project manager on the side of WUT: Michał Sarnowski, PhD (the Faculty of Civil Engineering)

WUT project team: Michał Sarnowski, PhD, Professor Piotr Radziszewski, Katarzyna Konieczna, MSc, Piotr Grzybowski, PhD, Jan Król, PhD, Professor Karol Kowalski, Professor Grzegorz Cieślak, Adam Liphardt, PhD, Piotr Pokorski, MSc

Project duration: 01.01.2020 – 30.04.2023