Effect of Cathodic Protection on Epoxy-coated Rebar

Report No: 98-R5

Published in 1998

About the report:

Epoxy coating is widely used to mitigate the access of chloride ions to the surface of a rebar. However, corrosion at the point of physical defects in the coating necessitates rehabilitation. Based on its effectiveness in mitigating corrosion of uncoated rebars, we examined cathodic protection (CP) as a method for rehabilitating epoxy-coated rebars (ECR). Although it is well established that cathodic polarization of epoxy coatings on steel in aqueous conditions leads to disbondment of the coating, neither the conditions that lead to this phenomenon nor the actual occurrence of this disbondment process has been determined for ECR in concrete. Since the integrity of the bond between the rebar and the concrete is essential to the composite strengthening by the rebar, the relationships among CP, the integrity of the epoxy coating, and the strength of the rebar/concrete bond must be investigated. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine if CP can effectively mitigate corrosion of coated rebar without adversely affecting the rebar/concrete interface, and (2) to examine the effect of cathodic polarization on the disbonding characteristics of the epoxy coating/rebar interface in concrete. Fifty-five samples of No. 5 ECR with coating defects were exposed to CP. Tensile loading produced splitting failures of all samples. This mode of failure allows greater sensitivity to the contributions of concrete/rebar adhesion and friction than do pullout failures. All electrochemical tests indicated that the cathodic polarization levels and times of application used in this study were effective in preventing corrosion of embedded ECR. An important finding was that the CP protection levels and times had no effect on the splitting failure characteristics based on comparisons of 95 percent confidence intervals. Multiple parameters within the electrochemical impedance spectra indicated that the epoxy coating was delaminating from the steel at the periphery of the defects. This phenomenon was verified in a postmortem analysis of the samples using scanning electron microscopy. The immediate significance of this result is that CP current demands could increase over time. Even though the levels of delamination in this study did not affect mechanical performance, a protective CP level that does not induce film delamination should be explored.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • S. R. Taylor, D. Stephen Bognaski, G. G. Clemeña

Last updated: December 15, 2023

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