Corrosion Protection Performance Evaluation of Low Permeable Concretes in Exposure Specimens

Report No: 99-CR5

Published in 1999

About the report:

The application of a mineral admixture or a combination of a mineral admixture with corrosion inhibitor are the methods used for the corrosion protection for reinforced concrete bridges. The results of a 1.5-year study on evaluation of three concretes with fly ash, slag cement (SC), and silica fume (SF) and one concrete with silica fume and a corrosion inhibitor (SFD) 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. In addition, cover depth measurements from 21 bridge decks and chloride data from 3 bridge decks were used, together with laboratory data, in modeling the service lives of investigated corrosion protection methods. The methods used to assess the condition of the specimens included chloride concentration measurements, corrosion potentials, and corrosion rates (3LP). 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 demonstrate that for low permeable (LP) concretes there appears to be significant difference both in a rate of chloride ingress and in the diffusion coefficients in comparison to the controls. Corrosion potentials agree with corrosion rates and suggest the possibility of an active corrosion process development on control specimens during indoor exposure. The structural cracks that were observed in some specimens appeared to have no influence on the corrosion development on the bars in the vicinity of the these cracks. It was concluded that the silicone and duct tape protection was adequate. The cracking, other than structural, appeared to be related to the reinforcing steel corrosion, except the cracks in the horizontal zone of the specimen with slag cement which were probably caused by the subsidence cracking. The least number of cracks was observed on the SF and SFD specimens. Modeling the time as a function of probability of the end of functional service life (EFSL) was presented. It has been shown that the distributions of surface concentrations of chloride ions (CO) and diffusion constants (DC) are key elements in the model. Model predictions show that the LP concretes provide much better level of protection against moisture and chlorides than the A4 concrete alone. Application of a corrosion inhibitor causes an elevation of the chloride threshold resulting in an additional increase in time to EFSL. Recommendations are to continue monitoring until cracking has occurred in all specimens to a greater extent to better estimate the service lives of LP concretes than is presently known in the construction of concrete bridge components in Virginia. The specimens with LP concretes 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 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. Also, more field studies are needed to better estimate distributions of surface chloride concentration and diffusion coefficient of Virginia bridge decks, and to confirm predicted times to EFSL for LP concretes.

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.


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

Last updated: December 12, 2023

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