You are on page 1of 3

Chloride Threshold Value (CTL):

The chloride threshold of rebar in concrete, CTL, can be defined as the content of chloride at
the depth of the rebar that is necessary to sustain localized breakdown of its passive film and
hence initiate its active corrosion
(Schiessl and Raupach, 1990).
The CTL is an important parameter in modeling and predicting the time to corrosion for rebar in
concrete and subsequently in assessing the service life of reinforced concrete in chloride-laden
(Stratfull, 1956; Gouda, 1970).
The CTL data in published literature are scattered over a wide range of values
(Glass and Buenfeld, 1997, 2000a; Alonso et al., 2000).
One possible reason is that different definitions and measurement methods are applied to
qualify the chloride threshold
(Glass and Buenfeld, 2000a; Angst et al., 2009; Ann and Song, 2007).
The chloride-to-hydroxyl ionic concentration ratio ([Cl2]/[OH2]) traditionally has been considered
to be a more reliable indicator than the chloride concentration (often expressed as total chloride
content by the weight of cement or concrete or free chloride concentration in concrete pore
solution), considering that the competition between aggressive Cl2 and inhibitive OH- governs
the pitting and repassivation of steel.
Research in aqueous solutions has indicated that for chloride-contaminated concrete, pitting
corrosion occurs only above a critical [Cl2]/[OH2] ratio
(Kayyali and Haque, 1998).
Through a probability simulation model, the threshold [Cl2]/ [OH2] for corrosion of bare steel
rods in high pH solutions was once predicted to be 0.66 in the presence of oxygen bubbles
attached to the steel and 1.4 in the case of air. Such results agreed favorably with experimental
data. In the same model, it was concluded that the threshold ratio should be about 1.4 for typical
reinforced concrete and in excess of 3 for high-quality concrete with minimal air voids
(Hausmann, 1988).
A number of studies exposed reinforcing steel bars to simulated concrete pore solutions and
revealed that the threshold [Cl2]/[OH2] ratio increased with increasing pH.
(Gouda, 1970;Yonezawaet al., 1988; Breit, 1998;Li and Sagues, 2001a, b)
Higher results (1.17-3.98) have been reported for the threshold Cl/OH ratio in mortars than was
found in synthetic pore solution (0.25-0.8)
(Alonso et al., 2000).
Recently, Ann and Song (2007) argued that the ratio of total chloride content to acid
neutralization capacity, [Cl2] / [H+], as it takes into account all potentially important inhibitive
(cement hydration products) and aggressive (total chloride) factors.

The lack of universally accepted chloride threshold value is also attributable to the numerous
factors that affect steel corrosion in concrete, such as:
the pH of concrete pore solution, the electrochemical potential of the steel, and the physical
condition of the steel/concrete interface. The pH of concrete pore solution depends mainly upon
the type of cement and additions and the carbonation level of concrete
(Hartt and Nam, 2008; Dehwah et al., 2002; Hassain et al., 1996; Moreno et al., 2004).
The potential of the steel is not only related to the steel type and surface condition (e.g.
roughness) but also on the availability of oxygen at the steel surface; the latter is affected by the
moisture content of concrete
(Cros et al., 2005; Li and Sagues, 2001a; Alonso et al., 2002).
The physical condition of the steel/concrete interface (especially entrapped air void content) was
found to be more dominant in defining the CTL than was the chloride binding or buffering
capacity of the cement matrix or binders
(Ann and Song, 2007).
Voids that normally can be found in real structures due to incomplete compaction may weaken
the layer of cement hydration products deposited at the steel/ concrete interface and thus may
favor local acidification required for sustained propagation of pits. The presence of air voids, as
well as crevices and microcracks, may decrease the chloride threshold
(Monfore and Verbeck, 1960; Soylev and Francois, 2005; Yu et al., 2007, 2010).
In addition, the presence of sulfate ions, the temperature and the concrete mix proportions and
quality may affect the chloride threshold
(Glass and Buenfeld, 2000a; Angst et al., 2009; Yu et al., 2010; Bertolini et al., 2004). Li and
Sagues (2001b) listed a
Wide array of internal and external factors defining the CTL, such as:
The composition, surface condition, and configuration of rebar; the concrete chemistry (type and
amount of cement and admixtures, type and porosity of aggregates, w/c ratio, degree of
hydration, etc.); the type and source of chloride; and the service environment (humidity,
temperature, cracking of concrete, etc.).
Angst et al. (2009)
Furthermore, it has been argued that the CTL should be treated as a distributed parameter
represented by a probability function, in light of the statistical nature of the processes involved
(e.g. chloride ingress and pitting initiation) and the inherent heterogeneities of the concrete
matrix, (Yu et al., 2007, 2010; Li and Sagues, 2001b).
Li and Sagues (2001b) suggested the incorporation of a Clth variability term in the service life
prediction procedures and durability models.
Despite the multitude of studies undertaken, the factors defining the Clth of steel rebar and their
interactions merit further investigation. This work presents a systematic study aimed to provide
quantitative understanding of the fundamental factors that influence the chloride threshold of

pitting corrosion of steel in concrete by conducting a set of laboratory tests to assess the
corrosion potential (Ecorr) and pitting potential (Epit) of steel coupons in simulated concrete
pore solutions.