Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Alberto A. Sagüés

Committee Member

Rajan Sen

Committee Member

Margareth Dugarte


Chloride, Corrosion, Protection, Steel


Corrosion can take place as chloride ions accumulate above a critical concentration (CT) at the surface of a reinforcing bar inside concrete in marine service. The initiation of corrosion can be delayed by polarizing the steel cathodically, which is known to increase the value of CT. That effect is the basis of the cathodic prevention (CPrev) method to control corrosion of reinforcing steel in concrete. However, concrete cracks are a common occurrence and at cracks, the buildup of chloride ions is accelerated to the extent that CPrev may be less effective. The findings from an ongoing investigation to determine the effectiveness of cathodic prevention on cracked concrete exposed to a marine environment are presented. Experiments were conducted on reinforced concrete blocks with controlled-width cracks placed along the length of a central reinforcing steel bar. A ponding area on top of each specimen allowed for cyclic exposure to a 5% NaCl solution to imitate a marine environment. Crack widths ranging from 0.01 inch to 0.04 inch and polarization levels ranging from -330 mV to -540 mV were used. The onset of corrosion as a function of time of exposure was determined by measurements of the cathodic current demand needed to reach each target polarization level. The ranking of time to onset of corrosion was used as an indicator to determine how much cathodic prevention is necessary to effectively extend the life of cracked concrete. Results to date suggest that a minimum cathodic polarization level in the range of -540 mV would be needed.

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