Performance Evaluation of Corrosion Inhibitors and Galvanized Steel in Concrete Exposure Specimens

Report No: 99-CR4

Published in 1999

About the report:

Corrosion inhibitor admixtures (CIA) and galvanized reinforcing steel (GS) are used for the corrosion protection for reinforced concrete bridges. The results of a 3.5-year evaluation of exposure specimens containing CIA from three different manufacturers and GS are presented. The specimens were built to simulate four exposure conditions typical for concrete bridges located in the coastal region or inland where deicing salts are used. The exposure conditions were Horizontal, Vertical, Tidal, and Immersed Zones. The specimens were kept inside the laboratory and were exposed to weekly ponding cycles of 6% sodium chloride solution by weight. The methods used to assess the condition of the specimens included chloride concentration measurements, corrosion potentials, and corrosion rates. Additionally, visual observations were performed for identification of rust stains and cracking on concrete surfaces. The results of chloride testing indicate that the amount of chlorides present at the bar level is more than sufficient to initiate corrosion. Chloride and rapid permeability data indicate no significant difference either in a rate of chloride ingress or in the diffusion coefficients for concretes with and without CIA. Corrosion potentials were the most negative for the Bare Steel (BS) specimen prepared with the Armatec 2000 corrosion inhibitor and generally indicated a 90% probability of active corrosion. Corrosion potentials were similar for the two BS control specimens and the BS specimen prepared with Rheocrete 222 and generally indicated an uncertain probability of corrosion. Corrosion potentials were the least negative for the BS specimen prepared with DCI-S corrosion inhibitor and generally indicated a 90% probability of no corrosion. Rate of corrosion measurements were the highest for the BS control specimens and the one prepared with A2000 and the most recent data suggest corrosion damage in 2 to 10 years. Although early rate of corrosion measurements were higher or about the same as for BS control specimens, recent measurements were slightly lower for the specimen prepared with Rheocrete 222 and suggest corrosion damage in 10 to 15 years. Rate of corrosion measurements were consistently the lowest for the BS specimens prepared with DCI-S and indicate corrosion damage is expected in 10 to 15 years. The corrosion potential and rate of corrosion data indicate that DCI-S is the only CIA evaluated that clearly provides some level of corrosion protection. A direct comparison of the GS specimens to the BS specimens is not possible because the measured potential refers to the zinc oxide and not to the steel. Nevertheless, the potential data agree with the chloride and permeability data, as well as with the visual observations, and indicate the damaging effect of a high concentration of chloride ions on the GS. At low and moderate chloride exposures, however, GS does provide corrosion protection. Recommendations are to continue monitoring until sufficient cracking has occurred in all specimens to provide for making a better estimate of the service lives of CIA and GS used in the construction of concrete bridge components in Virginia. The specimens with CIA and one control (continuous reinforcement in the legs) should be taken to the Hampton Road North Tunnel Island and placed in the brackish water to a depth of the Immersed Zone at low tide for further exposure to chloride. The specimens with GS and the other control (non-continuous reinforcement in the legs) should remain in an outdoor exposure in Southwest Virginia like the Civil Engineering Materials Research Laboratory in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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.


Other Authors

Jerzy Zemajtis, Richard E. Weyers, Michael M. Sprinkel, P.E.

Last updated: December 13, 2023

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