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Y. Ren*, Q. Huang, X. L. Liu and Z. J. Tong

Based on the durability test data of the existing bridges in Hainan province, this study explored how

the following factors, namely, the strength grade of concrete, stress condition, chloride ion content

and environment influenced the depth of the concrete carbonation. A prediction model for the

concrete carbonation depth of the in-service bridges in Hainan was established. The actual

bridge carbonation data collected in recent years were employed to calculate the concrete

quality impact coefficients. The impact on the carbonation depth of concrete from stress

condition is large, the results show that the greater the concrete compressive stress, the slower

the concrete carbonation rate; the larger the tensile stress, the faster the concrete carbonation

rate. After inspection, it was found that the calculation results of the model agreed well with the

bridge field test results, which suggested that the model would have good applicability.

Keywords: Concrete, Carbonation, Coupling effects, Load, Prediction

Introduction

Besides being eroded by carbon dioxide and chloride,

concrete bridges in coastal or marine environment are

also subjected to the dead load and vehicle load. Some

concrete bridges, only in operation for approximately

10 years, start to have reinforcement corrosion and protection layer spalling, which will seriously affect the structures safety, serviceability and durability. To ensure the

service life of bridges, the durability of the concrete

material itself plays a key role.

In marine-atmosphere environment with sufficient

oxygen supply, the coupling effect of concrete carbonation and chloride ion erosion can cause the acceleration

of concrete damage and intensification of concrete corrosion. According to the mechanism of concrete corrosion, micro-cracks inside the concrete, under the

heavy load of a bridge, will be expanded to a certain

extent, then the damage and deterioration of a concrete

structure will be further accelerated and intensified, thus

the service life of the concrete structure will be shortened

correspondingly.1

Under the coupling effects of environment and heavy

traffic, concrete bridges in Hainan have serious steel corrosion. In particular, the concrete carbonation depth of

these bridges is significantly higher than those in the

inland areas. Based on the durability test data of the

bridges in Hainan, this research explored how the following factors, namely, the strength grade of concrete, stress

condition, chloride ion content and environment, influenced the depth of the concrete carbonation. In the meantime, a prediction model for the concrete carbonation

*Corresponding author, email magren@126.com

carried out. It provides a theoretical basis for further

service life evaluation.

concrete bridges in Hainan

On the basis of thorough consideration of the impact of

the marine environment and the structural characteristics

of the in-service bridges in Hainan province, this research

took typical bridges in the east and west expressways in

Hainan to conduct the durability tests. The tested items

included bridge condition survey, environmental condition survey, traffic volume survey, investigation of the

concrete carbonation depth, detection of the chloride

ion content, detection of the thickness of the concrete

protective layer, detection of the reinforcement corrosion

and concrete crack detection.

The results showed that the concrete bridges in Hainan

experienced a relatively serious durability damage.

Common deficiencies include cracks induced by concrete

corrosion, concrete protective layer spalling and exposed

steel bars. Some bridges, only in operation for 10-odd

years, had serious concrete corrosions. In addition, for

the bridges in this region, concrete carbonation depth is

deep; chlorine ion content is high; the thickness of protective layer is small; especially, the detection results of the

carbonation depth of concrete are significantly higher

than those in the inland areas, and they are also higher

than the results derived from classic carbonation depth

prediction models. For example, a bridge had been in

service for only 13 years, but the carbonation depth

reached 33.11 mm. The following reasons might explain

this phenomenon:

(i) chloride content is high in Hainan;

Received 3 November 2014; accepted 12 March 2015

2015

VOL

19

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Ren et al.

(ii) annual temperature and relative humidity are relatively higher in this region;

(iii) concrete grade of the bridges is high;

(iv) since there is no road toll station in Hainan, roads

are overloaded by vehicles.

Prediction models of the concrete carbonation depth of

the in-service bridges in Hainan were studied from the

above four aspects and discussed as follows.

concrete bridges in Hainan, the present study mainly

focused on the methods of determining the four key parameters mentioned above: Kf, ks, Ke and kCl.

coefficient

So far, scholars from home and abroad have had a relatively mature cognition on the concrete carbonation

mechanism and influencing factors. The law that carbonation depth is proportional to the square root of the carbonised time has been widely accepted.2 There are three

categories of concrete carbonation depth models: theoretical model,3 empirical model and practical model

based on diffusion theory and experiments.4,5

According to the existing data and taking into account

that the depth of the concrete carbonation of the

bridges in Hainan is related to the factors such as the

stress condition of concrete, bridge environment and concrete quality, a modified random carbonation depth

model with multiple coefficients was derived on the

basis of Refs. 57, as shown in equation (1).

At present, most concrete carbonation models are established on the basis of the results of low-grade concrete

test or survey of actual engineering project. However, in

a real bridge structure, the grade of concrete strength is

higher. The concrete strength grade of the in-service

bridges in Hainan generally ranges from C30 to C50.

There is a large deviation between the carbonation

depth calculated by the existing model and the measured

results.

In order to determine the suitable concrete quality

impact coefficient for Hainan province, a standard

environment was set to analyse the data of the concrete

carbonation of 63 bridges in recent years. A diagram

was obtained to demonstrate the relation between the

speed of concrete carbonation and the standard value of

the concrete compressive strength (Fig. 1).

The results showed that the concrete carbonation depth

was proportional to the reciprocal of the compressive

strength. According to the trend of the scatter

diagram,3,5 equation (2) was selected for a regression

analysis:

X (t) = Kmc kj kCl kCO2 kp ks Ke Kf t

1

Kf = 68.83fcu,k

0.7307

carbonation depth model affected by

multi-factors

(1)

Kmc is the undetermined random variable of calculation

model, kj is the corner correction coefficient, kCl is the

influence coefficient of the concentration of chloride,

kCO2 is the CO2 concentration impact coefficient, kp is

the casting surface correction coefficient, ks is the stress

impact coefficient, Ke is the environment impact coefficient, Kf is the concrete quality impact coefficient and t

is the carbonised time. Considering the fact that the

corner concrete carbonation is actually a double diffusion, it is suggested that corner kj = 1.4 and non-corner

kj = 1.0. In addition, kCO2 = 1.11.4 according to the

local environmental condition, and kp = 1.2 according

to Ref. 8.

Equation (1) indicates that the key to establish the prediction model is to reasonably determine the coefficients

(2)

fcu,k is the standard value of the concrete compressive

strength.

After calculation by equation (2), comparing the

detected value and the calculated value, the goodness of

fit R 2 was 0.8352, whereas R 2 was 0.2747 by using the

method in Ref. 5. Thus, the concrete quality influencing

coefficient model established in this study was more suitable for Hainan.

Since 1 January 1994, Hainan province started collecting

motor vehicle fuel surcharge and removed all highway toll

stations, including those on the expressways. Then a following problem emerged: the number of overweight

vehicles was increasing year by year in Hainan province.

1 Relation schema of the carbonation speed and the standard value of the concrete compressive strength

2015

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9 S9-225

Ren et al.

2 Schema of the relation between the carbonation speed and the concrete compressive stress level

weight, which makes the bridges overload. Many

bridges are in operation with deficiencies. Increasing

load will inevitably affect the stress condition of the concrete structure, and the stress change will narrow or widen

the cracks, and thus affect the compactness of the structure and the rate of concrete carbonation. An experiment

was conducted to prove that the compressive stress could

slow down the rate of concrete carbonation. When stress

is less than 0.7fc, the greater the compressive stress, the

slower the carbonation rate; on the contrary, the tensile

stress can accelerate the rate of concrete carbonation,

and the larger the tensile stress, the faster the carbonation

rate.68 Therefore, the tensile stress has an obvious impact

on the concrete carbonation depth.

Since the bridges in Hainan bear large traffic loads and

the overload phenomenon is serious, the designed standard load cannot sustain the current situation.

Therefore, the actual vehicle load distribution has to be

taken into consideration so as to evaluate the real stress

condition of the bridge. Through a survey on the traffic

volume of the expressway in Hainan, a vehicle load

model based on the measured data was established by

studying the statistical distribution of the components

and proportion of the traffic volume, as well as the

weight and speed of vehicles, axle load, time headway

and other parameters. At the same time, finite element

models were established for the bridges under the durability test in Hainan. By loading the actual vehicle load

on the model and analysing the results of the finite

element calculation, the actual stress in the concrete carbonation detected region was obtained.

Through normalisation of the concrete carbonation

depth data of the in-service bridges in Hainan area to

the uniform environment standards, a schema about the

relationship between the concrete carbonation rate and

the concrete stress level was obtained (Figs. 2 and 3).

It indicated that the greater the concrete compressive

stress, the slower the concrete carbonation; the larger

the tensile stress, the faster the concrete carbonation

(Figs. 2 and 3). This was in consistent with the results

of Ref. 9, where the concrete carbonation velocity and

the stress level was a quadratic function relation.

According to the trend of the scatter diagram, quadratic

polynomial can be selected as the most reasonable

method for the regression analysis. The following

equations can be obtained for a standard environment

in Hainan:

For the compressive stress:

ks = 0.6973 + 4.363sc 18.18s2c

for the tensile stress:

ks = 0.1291 + 11.74st 5.991s2t

2015

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(4)

compressive stress level and st is the tensile stress level.

3 Schema of the relation between the carbonation speed and the concrete tensile stress level

(3)

9.73

10.45

12.93

11.49

4.19

11.23

(3) and (4), comparing the detected value and calculated

value, R 2 is 0.853 and 0.861, respectively. But in Ref. 10,

the stress condition influencing coefficient ks was 1.0 for

the compression stress and was 1.1 for the tensile stress.

Thus, the stress influencing coefficient model established

by this study is more suitable for Hainan.

11.42

12.06

13.76

12.84

3.58

13.08

coefficient

As for the environmental impact coefficient Ke, the influence of temperature and humidity on the concrete carbonation is considered. The calculation is conducted

according to equation (5):11

13

13

12

11

11

13

11.75

12.10

14.60

11.90

3.20

12.71

4

Ke = T (1 RH)RH

(5)

where is the environment impact factor, RH is the relative humidity of environment (%) and T is the mean

annual temperature of environment (C).

The value of reflects the environment impact on the

carbonation depth in the area. According to the data in

Refs. 5 and 12, combining with the measured data of

Hainan province, for the region of Hainan, a standard

environment is determined as RH = 80% and T = 25C.

Through calculation, the value of is 2.816.

22.34

16.50

33.37

16.72

28.99

20.80

5.35

2.55

7.96

2.47

4.54

2.65

7

8

9

10

11

12

Pier

Pier

Pier

Pier

Pier

Pier

chloride ion erosion on carbonation

At present, a lot of researches focus on the effect of carbonation on chloride ion erosion, but few studies on the

impact of chloride ion erosion on the carbonation of concrete are reported. A relevant research13 showed that

chloride ion erosion could refine the pore structure of

concrete, prevent carbon dioxide gas from entering the

structure, thus greatly improve the carbonation resistance

of concrete. The study also believed that, in a marineatmosphere environment, the concrete carbonation

depth was generally small, and the chloride ion erosion

was dominant.6 This conclusion was inconsistent with

the detection result that concrete carbonation depth is

relatively large in Hainan. Therefore, for the region of

Hainan, the influence of chloride ion on the carbonation

of erosion was not taken into consideration, and the value

of kCl was set 1.0.

24.75

17.02

33.11

15.20

25.69

21.36

model under the impact of multi-factors

In conclusion, the concrete carbonation depth prediction

model for the bridge components in Hainan can be

expressed in equation (6).

Hollow slab

T beam

Box girder

T beam

T beam

Hollow slab

13

12

13

11

13

13

4

X (t) = 2.816kj kCl kCO2 kp ks T RH(1 RH)

1

68.83fcu,k

0.7307 s t

1

2

3

4

5

6

Service

Calculated values in Calculated values in

time/year Measured values/mm this study/mm

Ref. 5/mm

Service

Calculated values in Calculated values

Detected

time/year Measured values/mm this study/mm

in Ref. 5/mm

No. site

Detected

No. site

Table 1 Comparison between the calculated values and the measured values of the concrete carbonation depth of the bridges in Hainan (a part of the results)

Ren et al.

(6)

parameter in equation (6) can be referred from the

above equations.

Model verification

In order to verify the applicability and practicability of

this model and predict the concrete carbonation depth

of the in-service bridges in Hainan, the study conducted

2015

VOL

19

SUPPL

9 S9-227

Ren et al.

detection results of the bridge carbonation depth. Part

of the results is shown in Table 1. All the values of

environmental impact parameters (such as CO2 concentration, temperature and humidity) and the concrete compressive strength were obtained from field tests. The

concrete stress level was determined by a survey on the

traffic volume and finite element analysis.

The R 2 for the comparison between the measured

values and the calculated values in the model of this

study was 0.9854, whereas the R 2 obtained from the comparison with Ref. 5 was 0.2230. It could be concluded that

the prediction model of the concrete carbonation depth of

the in-service bridges in Hainan provided by this study

had higher accuracy and stronger applicability compared

with other models.

Conclusions

1. Through the durability test on the in-service concrete

bridges in Hainan, it can be concluded that under the

combined effects of environment and vehicle loads,

there are serious reinforcement corrosions in concrete, and the concrete carbonation depth is significantly higher than that in the inland areas, and also

higher than the calculated results from the classical

prediction model for carbonation depth.

2. Most concrete carbonation models are based on the

result of low-grade concrete test or survey of actual

engineering project, but the actual strength grade of

concrete bridge structure is higher. The carbonation

depth calculated by the existing model greatly

varied from the measured results. In this study, the

actual bridge carbonation data collected in recent

years were employed to calculate the concrete

quality impact coefficients. The results fit better

with the measured results.

3. The phenomenon of vehicle overloading is serious in

Hainan. The impact on the carbonation depth of concrete from stress condition is big. Through the statistical analysis of traffic volume and finite element

calculation, the relationship between the real stress

level of concrete and the carbonation rate is obtained:

the greater the concrete compressive stress, the slower

the concrete carbonation rate; the larger the tensile

stress, the faster the concrete carbonation rate.

2015

VOL

19

SUPPL

carbonation depth from factors such as the strength

grade of concrete, stress condition and environment,

a prediction model for the concrete carbonation

depth of the in-service bridges in Hainan has been

established. After inspection, the calculated results of

the model fit well with the field test results, suggesting

this model is of good applicability.

Acknowledgement

This study was supported by the National Natural

Science Foundation of China (51208096).

References

1. S. B. Li and W. Sun: Review on deterioration of concrete subjected

to coupling effect of fatigue load, carbonation and chlorides,

J. Chinese Ceram. Soc., 2013, 11, 14591464.

2. D. M. Guo: Prediction the remaining useful life and study of performance degradation for R.C. bridge near coastal areas, PhD

thesis, University of Zhejiang, Zhejiang, China, 2014, 3538.

3. C. D. Atis: Accelerated carbonation and testing of concrete made

with fly ash, Constr. Build. Mater., 2003, 17, 147152.

4. V. G. Papadakis, C. G. Vayenas and M. N. Fardis: Fundamental

modeling and experimental investigation of concrete carbonation,

ACI Mater. J., 1991, 88, 363373.

5. D. T. Niu: Durability and Life Prediction of Concrete Structures,

2528; 2003, Beijing, Science Press.

6. L. Czarnecki and P. Woyciechowski: Concrete carbonation as a

limited process and its relevance to concrete cover thickness, ACI

Mater. J., 2012, 109, 275282.

7. E. Roziere, A. Loukili and F. Cussigh: A performance based

approach for durability of concrete exposed to carbonation,

Constr. Build. Mater., 2009, 23, 190199.

8. K. Y. Ann, S. W. Pack, J. P. Hwang, H. W. Song and S. H. Kim:

Service life prediction of a concrete bridge structure subjected to carbonation, Constr. Build. Mater., 2010, 24, 14941501.

9. V. G. Papadakis: Effect of supplementary cementing materials on

concrete resistance against carbonation and chloride ingress,

Cement Concrete Res., 2000, 30, 291299.

10. A. Castel, R. Francois and G. Arliguie: Effect of loading on carbonation penetration in reinforced concrete elements, Cement Concrete

Res., 1999, 29, 561565.

11. X. Y. Luo, H. B. Hong and Q. L. Shi: Experimental study on durability of concrete carbonation at different stress states, J. Nat.

Disasters, 2012, 21, 194199.

12. B. Grard and J. Marchand: Influence of cracking on the diffusion

properties of cement-based materials: Part I: Influence of continuous

cracks on the steady-state regime, Cement Concrete Res., 2000, 30,

3743.

13. C. F. Chang and J. W. Chen: The experimental investigation of concrete carbonation depth, Cement Concrete Res., 2006, 36,

17601767.

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