Reinforced concrete is widely used, but its lifespan is often uncertain. This is because the material is susceptible to different weather conditions, which may lead to deterioration. While plain concrete can last for centuries, reinforced concrete can deteriorate within a matter of decades. Even if the reinforced concrete material is durable, it’s still important to consider the longevity of the structure. For example, the largest unreinforced concrete dome, the Pantheon in Rome, still stands in good shape after almost 1,900 years. In contrast, many concrete structures built in the last century are crumbling, and many will be obsolete before the century is out.
The main concern regarding the durability of reinforced concrete is the presence of chlorides, which can damage the steel within. Despite the presence of chloride ions, the reinforcement paste in reinforced concrete protects the steel from corrosion. This passive protective oxide film is formed in concrete due to the high pH environment. However, chloride ions can penetrate and break down the passive oxide film. This can result in corrosion by forming an electrochemical current along the steel bars.
Although the lifespan of reinforced concrete is unknown, a new study has demonstrated that concrete structures can deteriorate in just five years. Some concrete structures even fail within 10 years. In such a scenario, it’s not surprising that the costs of repairing damaged infrastructure are increasing. Fortunately, the use of corrosion control techniques and simple models can help ensure that reinforced concrete structures last as long as they should.
Adding steel reinforcement to concrete can increase the durability of a structure. Steel is an inexpensive alternative, but the concrete itself is a better choice if it’s resistant to corrosion. The corrosion-resistant material will last longer than steel, and will require less maintenance and fewer resources. This will help ensure that the structure won’t become a financial burden in the future.
Reinforced concrete should be checked periodically to ensure that it has the correct cover. If the concrete is properly installed, it should last for decades. Cracks in concrete can be repaired by an experienced professional. The repairs will restore the concrete’s integrity and extend its life. The durability of reinforced concrete depends on many factors, including the concrete’s design and the construction method.
Steel is cheaper than stainless steel and aluminium bronze. Steel reinforcement is often chosen by developers as it helps save money on the upfront costs. However, developers should remember that steel rusts and is highly corrosive. Therefore, it is vital to use stainless steel if possible. It will be cheaper to repair a concrete structure with steel than one without steel.
The concrete that supports reinforced steel needs to be protected against corrosion. The steel reinforcement in the concrete is exposed to moisture and oxygen, which can cause corrosion. This causes iron oxides on the steel to form on its surface. Once these oxides form, they expand against the concrete and cause the concrete to crack or spall.