Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Alberto A. Sagues


Corrosion Propagation, Corrosion Rate, Durability, Modeling, Spalling


Abstract: Concrete cover cracking due to reinforcement corrosion is widely accepted as a limit-state indicator in defining the end of functional service life for existing reinforced concrete (RC) structures undergoing corrosion. Many of the currently available durability prediction models are incapable of providing realistic estimates of remaining service lives of RC structures beyond the corrosion initiation point. Therefore, the need to incorporate the length of the corrosion propagation stage in a comprehensive durability prediction approach has recently received much research attention. Previous research focus however was mostly limited to the case of uniformly corroding reinforcement with only few studies addressing the commonly encountered case of localized rebar corrosion. It was empirically shown in a previous study that localized corrosion can have a mitigating effect on time to concrete cover cracking due to the larger required depth of rebar corrosion penetration (Critical penetration or Xcrit). The present research was focused on developing a model for predicting Xcrit for various degrees of corrosion localization including new cases of highly localized corrosion. Accelerated corrosion testing of controlled anodic regions along axial rebars in sound concrete cylinders suggested that localized corrosion can increase Xcrit by up to about a factor of 10. The effect of corrosion localization on the orientation of corrosion-induced surface cracks was also addressed. Testing of freely corroding pre-cracked RC pipe specimens in a chloride-containing environment indicated that steel corrosion can be localized at intersection regions with the pre-existing cracks and uniformly distributed around the reinforcing steel perimeter. Numerical modeling was undertaken to substantiate the experimentally observed trends on a theoretical basis for various degrees of corrosion localization. A mechanical model was developed to improve understanding of the underlying mechanism responsible for corrosion-induced stresses. A thick-walled multiple-cylinder approach was employed to simulate crack initiation and propagation to account for the residual strength property of concrete after cracking by applying the principles of applied elasticity. For a given concrete cover depth, the amount of Xcrit was shown by modeling to be largely determined by the length of corroding region and the capacity of the induced cracks to accommodate produced rusts. The properties of both concrete-rebar interface and corrosion products were also found to have a significant impact on Xcrit. Based on the model and experimental trends and comparisons with literature data, an improved relationship for the estimation of Xcrit was proposed. An electrochemical model was also formulated to address the possible role of corrosion aggravation due to macrocell coupling in counteracting the mitigating effect of increased Xcrit on time to concrete cover cracking. Findings confirmed that corrosion localization can reasonably be considered a mitigating factor for extending the corrosion propagation stage, and provided more precise quantification to that effect.