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Critical chloride concentrations in reinforced concrete specimens with ordinary Portland and blast furnace slag cement

J. Pacheco, R.B. Polder

Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
TNO, Structural Reliability, Delft, the Netherlands

Chloride induced reinforcement corrosion is the predominant degradation mechanism affecting reinforced concrete structures. Chlorides (Cl-) contained in sea water or de-icing salts penetrate through concrete pores by diffusion and/or convection. Reinforcement corrosion initiates when the Cl concentration at the reinforcing steel surface equals or exceeds a specific concentration. This concentration is known as the critical chloride content (Ccrit). This study presents an experimental method proposed by the RILEM Committee 235-CTC “corrosion initiating chloride threshold concentrations”. Two series of reinforced concrete specimens were fabricated: one with ordinary Portland cement (CEM I) and another with ground granulated blast furnace slag –GGBS- (CEM III/B) cement, both commercially available in The Netherlands. Subsequently, the specimens were partially submerged in a chloride-rich solution (3.3 wt. % NaCl) for 6 months. During this period, continuous monitoring of the open-circuit potential (OCP) of the steel reinforcement was used to determine the initiation of reinforcement corrosion. The concentration of Cl could be determined by acid digestion and subsequent titration of powder samples collected from individual layers in the concrete cover. Results show that after the exposure period, the Ccrit could be determined in PC specimens whereas in GGBS concrete specimens the higher resistance to chloride ingress prevented from obtaining corrosion initiation.

Key words: Critical chloride content, concrete, durability