Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Localization and Spectroscopic Techniques for the Detection of Corrosion on Rebar in Concrete

Project ID: 5213
Principal Investigator: Jessica Torrey
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: corrosion, reinforced concrete

Research Question

This study will partner with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to apply a novel technique to the field of non-destructive testing of corrosion of metal in concrete. This technique will employ microwave and or millimeter wave technology to attempt to quantify the degree of corrosion at a metal-concrete interface. For example, the extent of corrosion of rebar in reinforced concrete pipes could be measured without damage to the concrete. This technique has the potential to be several orders of magnitude more sensitive than current testing techniques. Two main questions will be posed:
•Does this technique have validity in the field of non-destructive corrosion testing?
•What is the appropriate pathway to move this technique from the basic science laboratory to real-world application?

Need and Benefit

A 2002 study by NACE International and the Federal Highway Administration estimated that the direct economic impact of corrosion is $276 billion annually in the United States. This includes $22.6 billion annually in direct costs associated with corrosion of infrastructure. It was estimated that 25-30% of this cost could be saved if optimum corrosion management practices were employed. The NACE-FHA report cited "develop advanced life-prediction and performance assessment methods" and "improve corrosion technology through research, development, and implementation" as two of the key areas for prevention of loss due to corrosion.

This project represents a unique opportunity to have basic and applied researchers working together to develop a new testing technique at a fundamental level, and yet keep the technique on track for real-world application. Reclamation corrosion staff routinely conduct corrosion inspections, and are continually looking for new and improved techniques which assess the condition of reinforcements in concrete and provide information needed to produce O&M plans. The potential advances in sensitivity and location specificity of the technique being developed at NIST would allow Reclamation corrosion specialists to pinpoint problem areas at an earlier stage where corrosion mitigation methods might be used rather than repair or replacement.

Research Products

A final report summarizing the results of this research project and recommending further actions will be prepared at the end of this project. In addition, it is anticipated that results of this research will be appropriate for submission to a peer-reviewed research journal in either the field of physics or corrosion science and engineering.

This information was last updated on August 29, 2014
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page