Self-Healing Bio-Based Materials

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Self-healing bio-based materials represent a revolutionary advancement in material science, taking inspiration from nature’s ability to repair itself. These materials, derived from renewable biomass sources, possess the remarkable ability to heal or repair damage autonomously or with minimal external intervention. This innovation promises to extend the lifespan of products, reduce waste generation, and enhance the sustainability and durability of various applications, from coatings and adhesives to construction materials and even electronics.

Impact on climate action

Self-Healing Bio-Based Materials offer a transformative shift in sustainability. By reducing waste through prolonged product lifespan, they mitigate environmental impact. Their innovative design minimizes the need for resource-intensive replacements, fostering a circular economy. This advancement exemplifies the synergy between technological innovation and climate-conscious practices, accelerating progress towards climate action.


  • Biomimicry: Self-healing bio-based materials are inspired by biological systems, such as the healing process of skin or the self-repairing capabilities of certain plants. Researchers are studying these natural mechanisms to develop similar functionalities in bio-based materials.
  • Microencapsulation: One common approach involves embedding microcapsules containing healing agents, such as monomers, catalysts, or bio-based resins, within the bio-based material matrix. When damage occurs, the microcapsules rupture, releasing the healing agents, which then react to repair the damage.
  • Vascular Networks: Inspired by the vascular systems found in living organisms, researchers are developing bio-based materials with embedded vascular networks that can transport healing agents to the site of damage.
  • Shape Memory Polymers: These bio-based polymers can be programmed to return to their original shape after deformation, offering a form of self-healing for shape recovery.
  • Bio-Inspired Self-Assembly: Leveraging the self-assembling properties of certain biomolecules, researchers are developing materials that can spontaneously reassemble and repair damage.

TRL : 4-7 (depending on the specific material and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Self-Healing Coatings: Bio-based coatings with microencapsulated healing agents can repair scratches, cracks, and other surface damage, extending the lifespan of painted surfaces, protective coatings, and even marine coatings.
  • Self-Healing Adhesives: Bio-based adhesives that can restore their bonding strength after damage, enhancing the reliability and durability of bonded structures.
  • Self-Healing Concrete: Incorporating self-healing agents into concrete mixtures to repair micro-cracks and prevent further deterioration, extending the lifespan of concrete structures and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Self-Healing Bioplastics: Developing bioplastics with self-healing capabilities, enabling them to repair damage and maintain their mechanical properties, reducing plastic waste and promoting circularity.
  • Self-Healing Electronics: Exploring the use of self-healing bio-based materials in electronic devices to repair damaged circuits and components, extending the lifespan of electronics and reducing electronic waste.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Biomimetic Self-Repair Mechanisms
  • Microcapsule-Embedded Healing Agents
  • Vascular Network Delivery Systems
  • Shape Memory Polymer Applications
  • Bio-Inspired Self-Assembly Techniques
  • Self-Healing Coatings for Surface Repair
  • Self-Repairing Bio-Based Adhesives
  • Self-Healing Concrete Technology
  • Bioplastic Material Regeneration
  • Self-Healing Electronics Integration
  • Bio-Based Elium® Resin Development
  • Microencapsulation in Self-Repair
  • Advancements in Self-Healing Composites
  • 3D Printing Self-Repairing Bio-Materials
  • Skin-Like Self-Healing Polymers
  • Bio-Based Elastomer Self-Repair
  • Vascular Network in Concrete Healing
  • Commercial Self-Healing Coating Solutions
  • Infrastructure Applications of Self-Healing Concrete
  • Self-Repairing Biomedical Implants

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Arkema:
    • Technology Focus: Arkema is a leading specialty chemicals company known for its innovative materials solutions. In the context of self-healing bio-based materials, Arkema likely explores the development of biodegradable polymers and coatings capable of self-repair after damage.
    • Uniqueness: Arkema stands out for its extensive expertise in both chemical engineering and materials science. Their approach to self-healing bio-based materials may involve proprietary formulations and processing techniques that enhance durability and sustainability.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could find applications in various industries such as automotive, construction, packaging, and electronics, where the demand for eco-friendly and resilient materials is high.
  2. Autonomic Materials Inc.:
    • Technology Focus: Autonomic Materials Inc. specializes in the development of self-healing technologies for coatings and composites. Their focus is on incorporating microcapsules or vascular networks into materials, enabling them to autonomously repair cracks and damage.
    • Uniqueness: The uniqueness of Autonomic Materials Inc. lies in its expertise in creating self-healing systems that can be tailored to specific material requirements and application environments. Their solutions offer improved longevity and performance compared to traditional materials.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include industries where maintenance costs and downtime due to material damage are significant concerns, such as aerospace, marine, infrastructure, and consumer electronics.
  3. Xilloc:
    • Technology Focus: Xilloc specializes in additive manufacturing and biomaterials, with a focus on producing patient-specific medical implants. In the context of self-healing bio-based materials, Xilloc might be exploring the integration of biocompatible polymers with self-healing capabilities into their implant designs.
    • Uniqueness: Xilloc’s uniqueness lies in its expertise in personalized healthcare solutions and additive manufacturing techniques. By incorporating self-healing properties into their implants, they can offer patients enhanced longevity and reduced risk of complications.
    • End-User Segments: Their primary end-user segment is the healthcare industry, particularly patients requiring custom implants for orthopedic, cranio-maxillofacial, or dental applications. Additionally, their materials could find use in other medical devices and prosthetics.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Illinois are pioneering the development of self-healing bio-based materials by integrating biological processes with synthetic materials. They are exploring biomimetic approaches inspired by natural systems to design materials capable of self-repair.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at the University of Illinois emphasizes the use of bio-inspired strategies, such as incorporating microorganisms or self-replicating molecules, to enable self-healing in bio-based materials. This interdisciplinary approach combines expertise in materials science, biology, and engineering to create innovative solutions for sustainable and resilient materials.
    • End-use Applications: The self-healing bio-based materials developed at the University of Illinois have potential applications in infrastructure, automotive, and aerospace industries. For example, self-healing concrete could repair cracks autonomously, extending the lifespan of infrastructure and reducing maintenance costs.
  2. University of Freiburg (Germany):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Freiburg are advancing the field of self-healing bio-based materials by exploring novel mechanisms for triggering and controlling the healing process. They are investigating stimuli-responsive materials that can sense damage and initiate repair autonomously.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at the University of Freiburg focuses on harnessing the unique properties of bio-based polymers and nanomaterials to develop self-healing materials with customizable properties. By tailoring the composition and structure of the materials, researchers aim to achieve optimal healing performance under different environmental conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The self-healing bio-based materials developed at the University of Freiburg have potential applications in biomedical devices, wearable electronics, and consumer products. For instance, self-healing hydrogels could be used in medical implants or wearable sensors to enhance durability and reliability.
  3. Ghent University (Belgium):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Ghent University are at the forefront of developing self-healing bio-based materials using advanced manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing. They are exploring how to integrate self-healing functionality into complex geometries and structures.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at Ghent University focuses on the scalability and practical implementation of self-healing bio-based materials for industrial applications. They are addressing challenges related to material compatibility, processability, and cost-effectiveness to enable large-scale production.
    • End-use Applications: The self-healing bio-based materials developed at Ghent University have potential applications in automotive components, electronics packaging, and renewable energy systems. For example, self-healing coatings could protect electronic devices from scratches and corrosion, extending their lifespan and reliability.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While commercial applications of self-healing bio-based materials are still emerging, several promising examples exist:

  • Self-Healing Coatings: Several companies offer commercially available self-healing coatings for automotive, marine, and industrial applications, showcasing the potential to extend the lifespan of painted surfaces and protective coatings.
  • Self-Healing Concrete: Self-healing concrete is being used in limited infrastructure projects, demonstrating its potential to reduce maintenance costs and extend the lifespan of concrete structures.