Reinforced Concrete (RC) Structures: How To Encounter Steel Corrosion

Reinforced Concrete (RC) Structures: How To Encounter Steel Corrosion

Reinforced concrete structures go through a number of changes and actions throughout their lifespan. These changes or actions can be the reason why concrete structures deteriorate. Higher traffic volumes, increased population growth, heavier vehicles, structural modifications, lack of maintenance and corrosion resistance strategies, and construction practices are some of the factors that lead to deterioration and premature failure of RC structures.

In order to increase structural capacity due to increased loads or to reinstate structural capacity as a result of deterioration, existing structures are rehabilitated. As the demand for safe, durable, maintenance-free, and strengthen concrete structures is on the rise, many innovative materials like glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) have been introduced. GFRP or other composite materials are an excellent alternative to traditional strengthening materials like steel, especially when it comes to rehabilitation or constructing concrete structures in harsh environments.

Reinforced concrete has been a major structural material for more than a century. It is still a very popular and widely used material for public structures all across the globe. When civil engineers started using reinforced concrete, it was believed that RC structures were durable enough to last or maintain their integrity and strength for decades. However, corrosion of steel reinforcement seriously damaged the durability and strength of concrete.

Corrosion of steel reinforcement

Researchers have developed a number of technologies to address the problem of steel corrosion; for example, stainless or galvanized steel. Cathodic protection is another technique where the structure is connected to a rust-inhibiting electric current.

Treating concrete with a rust-inhibiting compound is another technology that is supposed to eliminate corrosion. Unfortunately, none of these techniques can permanently resolve steel corrosion inside the concrete. This is the reason why thousands of concrete structures, especially bridges, in North America have become structurally deficient.

Development of non-corrosive construction materials

Taking into account the widespread corrosion of steel reinforcement and structural deficiency, serious efforts were made in the second half of the 20th Century to develop non corrosive and non-metallic reinforcement for civil engineering applications. Highly durable, lightweight, and corrosion-free GFRP fiberglass rebar was developed as an effort to get rid of the disadvantages associated with steel and other traditional materials.

The civil engineering community now acknowledges the many advantages of applying GFRP bars and other fiberglass products. Corrosion-resistance, lightweight, and electromagnetic neutrality are some of the notable features of fiberglass rebar.

In order for the construction industry to permanently resolve RC deterioration due to corrosion, they should replace traditional materials with GFRP. It’s time to build sustainable RC structures that can easily achieve a lifespan of 100 years without requiring heavy maintenance.


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