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Session 8 Durability of concrete structures


J. Rodrguez L. Ortega D. Izquierdo C. Andrade
Dr. Civil Engineer Civil Engineer Civil Engineer Dr. Chemist
GEOCISA Institute Eduardo Torroja of Construction

Key words: Concrete structures, reinforcement corrosion, structural assessment.

Abstract. Concrete structures suffer reinforcement corrosion when aging. This corrosion may lead into
serious damages. Until now advances have been made in the inspection of deteriorated structures and
the identification of the cause. However very few research has been published on assessment methods of
the structural condition of these structures. The structural assessment objective is to determine the actual
safety level of the structure and their residual life. In this paper, a detailed assessment of concrete
elements affected by rebar corrosion is presented. The methodology will allow to know the ultimate state
of the section, adequately reduced with time. Although the development of the principles were carried out
in a R&D project, a validation and calibration procedure has been developed during two years by applying
the methodology to several real concrete structures affected by rebar corrosion in a new INNOVATION
project founded by the EC.


In order to make an adequate management of structures and, therefore, an efficient conservation policy, it
is necessary to know in each point in the time whether their safety is enough or not [1]. This evolution will
act as a base for the need of strengthening or repair. Thus, the need of adequate tools for assessing
structures has become an important issue as more structures are built every year.

The aging of structures is produced by a continuous interaction with the ambient which leads into a
deterioration of the material. It is essential to know of the deterioration mechanisms, and how this
deterioration influences the safety of the whole structure.

Although several deterioration processes may affect concrete structures, the reinforcement corrosion has
been recognised the most important one for its economical consequences. The main effects of
reinforcement corrosion can be classified into three main groups [2] (Figure 1).

Those, which affect the reinforcement section, reducing the effective area and steel ductility.
Those, which are related to concrete integrity (cracking and spalling).
Those, which affect the interaction concrete reinforcement due to the bond reduction.

The knowledge of the present state and future evolution of these aspects is essential for the assessment
of a structure suffering reinforcement corrosion.

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Loss of Cracking Bond reduction


Mechanical properties Cross section

(ductility) reduction



Figure 1. Reinforcement corrosion effects on concrete structures



The main objective of a structural assessment is the residual safety level determination, in order to
establish an adequate intervention program with the higher degree of available information. On the other
hand, a structural assessment can also be used for calibration of more simplified methodologies [3].

Three are the main aspects to be analysed in a structural assessment.

Action, or better action effect, evaluated on the structure.

Deterioration process evaluation.
Safety and serviceability limit states verification.

The two last aspects will be extended below for structures affected by reinforcement corrosion:

2.1 Deterioration process evaluation

The attack by corrosion will be appraised by using a penetration attack, Px, which is the loss of
reinforcement radius. Px is the main parameter that will allow a correlation with the general effects
previously mentioned on the composite section concrete steel [4]. This parameter can be measured
visually from the residual diameter or estimated by means the corrosion rate Icorr [5], [6].

PX is related with Icorr through the expression (1):

PX [mm] = 0,0116 I corr t (1)

where t is the time since the corrosion started is the pitting factor which takes into account the type of
corrosion (homogeneous or localised).

Session 8 Durability of concrete structures

The determination of Icorr in real structures will depend on several factors and several strategies may be
used for its determination in order to obtain a Representative Value of the loss of diameter PX [7], [3]:

Several measurements in time with different environmental conditions, obtaining a

mean value to be used in the calculation, this can be achieved by using embedded
or permanent bonded sensors.
A single value which is averaged with Icorr values obtained in a drilled core submitted
in the lab to water saturation.
The use of a classification of exposure classes where representative corrosion
values are proposed.

Reinforcement corrosion provokes on concrete steel section the effects shown on figure 1 above. These
effects are related to the PX value according the following principles:

Effective steel section reduction. Depending on the type of aggressive and type of corrosion their
influence on the effective steel is quite different. Although expression (1) may be used for the calculation
of the loss of radius , the values are quite different if the corrosion is homogeneous ( = 2) than for
pitting corrosion, usually due to chloride induced corrosion. ( ~ 10) [7], [8]. The calculation of the rebar
diameter can be achieved through eq. (2):

Re s = 0 PX = 0 0,0116 I corr t (2)

Cover cracking [9]. The oxides generated in the corrosion process provoke a tensional state in the
concrete cover that will produce cover cracks, reducing consequently the cross section of the concrete
element and therefore their load bearing capacity. Several empirical expressions have been developed,
that can evaluate the crack width of the cover, as a direct function of the corrosion attack Px and several
geometric and mechanical parameters [10], and are collected in eq. (3).

w[mm] = 0.05 + [PX PX 0 ] [w < 1mm] (3)

where, depends of the rebar position in the element according to table 1.

Characteristic values
Top rebars Bottom rebars
10 12,5

Table 1. values for crack width evolution

and the value of PX0 corresponding to cracking initiation depends mainly of the cover diameter ratio

and the splitting tensile strength of the concrete fCt,sp in Mpa. Eq. (4) provides an estimation of PX0 in mm.

PX 0 = 83.8 10 3 + 7.4 10 3 22.6 10 3 f ct ,sp [PX0 0] (4)

Loss of bond. The concrete steel bond is the responsible of the composite behaviour of both materials.
However, corrosion provokes a reduction in bond due to the cover cracking and stirrups corrosion. Finally
a limit state of bond can be achieved. Three main aspects are considered:

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Residual bond assessment. Table 2 shows empirical expressions obtained in [10], [11] based on several
test from [13] that allow to obtain realistic residual bond values. All of them are depending on the attack
penetration Px.

Table 2. Relationship between Px and bond

Bond strength (MPa)

With stirrups No stirrups
4.75 - 4.64 Px 2.50 - 6.62 Px
Where Px is the attack penetration in mm.

For intermediate cases where the amount of stirrups is low, bellow the minimum required in Eurocode 2, or
the stirrups capacity can be strongly reduced by corrosion effect expressions of table 3 may be applied.

Table 3. Bond values, intermediate cases

fb 10.04 + m(1.14+ Px)

m -6.62 + 1.98(/0.25)
n [(w - Px)/]2

- is the diameter in mm of the longitudinal bar.
- w is the diameter in mm of the transverse bar.
- n is the number of transverse bars at anchorage length.
- depends on the type of corrosion.




1 4

3 2

0,05 0,1 0,15 0,2 0,25 0,3 0,35 0,4 0,45 0,5 0,55 0,6 0,65 0,7 0,75 0,8 0,85 0,9 0,95 1

x (mm)

Figure 2. Loss of bond as a function of Px in mm. [1.- Element with stirrups without pits, 2.- Element with
pits in stirrups, 3.- Element without stirrups, 4.- Element with stirrups and external pressure.

These expressions are of application with Px values between 0,05 and 1 mm with 0.25.

Session 8 Durability of concrete structures

Influence of external pressures that can be present due to external supports. Thus, expressions similar to
that presented in Eurocode 2 have been developed by [11]

fb =
(4.75 4.64 PX ) (5)
1 0.08 p

where fb is the residual bond strength in MPa, PX is the corrosion attack in mm and p the external pressure in
the bond zone (MPa). This expression can be used for the bond evaluation of the rebar at element ends.

Figure 2 shows an application of these expressions in a reinforcing bar diameter of 20mm without stirrups
(curve 3) or with 48 stirrups at anchorage lenght. Curves 1 and 2 correspond to the bond reduction with a
reduction at the end of the element without pressure (1 with homogeneous corrosion and 2 with pitting
corrosion), curve 4 corresponds to a external pressure of 5 MPa.

Relationship between bond and crack width. Several expressions have been developed for relating the
residual bond with the crack width (Table 4).

Table 4. Relationship bond (MPa) and crack width (mm).

Stirrups No stirrups
Characteristic values 4.66 - 0.95 w 2.47 - 1.58 w

w is the crack with in mm.

Rebar ductility. Several tests of corroded rebars have shown an important reduction in the rebar ductility
not only in the final strain of the rebar but also in the strain stress curve of the corroded rebar [14], [15].
The tests show that the yield point is diffuse and the strain at maximum force is considerably reduced.
However, the valve of strain at maximum force remained above the minimum value indicated in Eurocode
[14] for class B reinforcement (5%).

2.2 Structural analysis

The structural analysis can be carried out following the main principles of structures with linear elastic
analysis, it is important to identify the presence of cracks in sections produced by corrosion or not in order
to reduce their stiffness in the structural model.


3.1. Ultimate limit state

For slab and beams [11], a conservative value of the ultimate bending moment can be calculated by using
the classical models adding correction in order to take into account the reduced steel section and the
concrete section spalled. A possible reduction due to bond deterioration due to corrosion should be
considered, specially if the corrosion attack is on the tensile zone of the beams.

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Although, shear and bending moment are assumed not to have the same safety in the design phase for
beams without corrosion, because the shear formulation is considered to be conservative. For corroded
one, several factors may induce a premature fail of shear, such as:

- Small diameters on stirrups.

- Lower cover for stirrups.
- Spalling of cover.

In order to check the ultimate axial effort of a column element [12], the reduction should be applied on the
concrete section in the case of spalling and if there is no stirrups a reduction in the longitudinal bars
subjected to compression due to risk of buckling.

Although no tests have been performed regarding punching shear it is possible to extrapolate the shear
test to slabs in order to use a verification procedure for punching in slabs.

The Time history evolution of the load bearing capacity is simplified by using a linear interpolation
between the crack initiation and the spalling point of lateral and top cover, in Figure 3. It can be proved
that, for normal concrete sections the exact calculation (step by step) provide a negligible error using this
simplification. Thus, it is necessary to calculate three points in Figure 3. The ultimate section effort (MU1 in
the example) at the crack initiation point PX0, the ultimate section effort (MU2) when top cover spalled (it is
supposed that the top cover (at compression side) can be neglected when crack width at top is above 0,2
mm), and finally (MU3) when lateral cover spalls (the same criteria applies).

3.1.2. Serviceability Limit State

The serviceability limit states to be checked should be:

Exterior aspect of the structures (rust, spalling).

Cracking of cover due to corrosion or excessive loading.
Excessive deflections.

For the deflection and crack checking due to loading the same expressions provided by Eurocode 2 can
be used, reducing the steel section, the spalled concrete and the cracking if it exists. However, is the
owner of the structure who has to establish their acceptable degree for their structures regarding
serviceability conditions.

Mu MU1




Top cover
Figure 3. Time history evolution of ultimate bending moment.

Session 8 Durability of concrete structures


An adequate tool for a convenient management of structures, has been developed to be a first order
requirement. After a preliminary inspection, that tries to identify the damage level of the structure and the
environmental characteristics that surrounds the structure, it is needed a structural assessment on the
element in order to evaluate the intervention urgency. Detailed assessment allows a complete verification
of the element safety in a similar manner as that proposed by the Limit State theory. So, this aspects are
covered in this step:

1. Action effect assessment by means a structural analysis.

2. Material properties and their damage level.
3. Load bearing capacity and serviceability verification

Finally the detailed assessment can be performed using classical concrete models used in design phase,
reducing adequately the final characteristics of the composite section reinforcement concrete.


The BRITE EURAM project BE4062 The service life of reinforced concrete structures founded by the
EC, was performed in collaboration with BCA (UK), GEOCISA, Lund and Cementa (Sweden)

The innovation project IN30901I CONTECVERT, was finished on 2001 in collaboration with BCA, NCP,
TRL from UK, CBI, Lund, Skanska, VUAB, BV y SNRA from Sweden and Iberdrola, Enresa, Direccin
General de Arquitectura y Vivienda de la Generalitat vanciana, Instituto Eduardo Torroja and Geocisa
from Spain.


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afectadas por corrosin de la armadura" CONTECVET IN30902I

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Proceedings of the 1st fib Congress

[8].- Gonzlez, J.A., Andrade C., Alonso C. y Feli S. : Comparison of rates of general corrosion and
maximum pitting penetration on concrete embedded steel reinforcement. Cement and Concrete Research.
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[10].- Rodrguez, J.; Ortega, L.M.; Casal, J. y Dez, J.M : Corrosion of reinforcement and service life of
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Sweden, Vol 1, pp 117-126, edit by C. Sjstrm, E&FN Spon. Chapman and Hall, (1996).

[11].- Rodrguez, J.; Ortega, L.M.; Casal, J. y Dez, J.M : Assessing structural conditions of concrete
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[12].- Rodrguez, J.; Ortega, L.M.; Casal, J.: Load bearing capacity of concrete columns with corroded
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