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Title no. 96-S17

Flexural Strength of Concrete Beams with Corroding

by Pritpal S. Mangat and Mahmoud S. Elgarf

The paper presents the results of an experimental study on section due to corrosion results in failure of serviceability.11
111 under-reinforced concrete beams to determine their resid- Service life predictions based on the loss of safety margin in
ual flexural capacity after undergoing different degrees of rein- concrete members due to section loss have also been attempt-
forcement corrosion. Corrosion was induced in the laboratory ed.12 Some researchers have defined levels of deterioration
by an accelerated corrosion technique using two sources of based on visual indications, such as rust stains.13 Color modifi-
external power supply. The beams were precured for different cations, however, are not always present and cannot be consid-
periods of up to 1 year before accelerated corrosion was ered as a prerequisite for damage classification. Some
induced in the reinforcement. Different degrees of reinforcing researchers have considered the presence of longitudinal crack-
bar corrosion were induced in increments, ranging from 1.25 to ing in concrete as a sign of ultimate limit state,14 but flexural
10 percent at corrosion rates of 1, 2, 3, and 4 mA/cm2. The testing of members in this condition has shown small loss in the
beams were reinforced with two longitudinal bars. Shear rein- ultimate flexural strength. The significant loss of reinforcement
forcement was provided by external means using steel collars. bond with concrete due to steel corrosion15 is likely to be the
The results show marked reductions in flexural strength due primary cause of reduction in flexural strength.
to reinforcement corrosion, which is caused primarily by the
Development and validation of some predictive models for
breakdown of bond at the steel/concrete interface.
the service life assessment of reinforced concrete have been at-
tempted.16-18 Their accuracy relies on the correct modeling of
Keywords: flexural strength; load-deflection curve; reinforced concrete;
deterioration processes. Also, the relationship between degree
reinforcement corrosion; repairs.
of reinforcement corrosion and the residual strength and stiff-
ness of flexural members is a key requirement for any model for
predicting the service life of structures. This paper derives such
The large-scale construction of infrastructure in Europe and
the United States after World War II relied heavily on the use of a relationship based on experimental data.
reinforced concrete. It was based on the secure assumption that
protection awarded to steel reinforcement by concrete was per- RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE
manent. Recent experiences, unfortunately, have proved other- Optimal decision making about repair and maintenance of re-
wise and have highlighted the importance of developing service inforced concrete structures requires the capability of predicting
life prediction models of deteriorating structures so that optimal the residual structural capacity of members that are undergoing
strategies for their maintenance and repair can be developed. reinforcement corrosion. The complex interactions that occur
One of the major deterioration processes in reinforced con- between different bars (i.e., shear and tensile reinforcement)
crete is reinforcement corrosion made possible by carbonation during corrosion need to be simulated in the laboratory in a con-
of concrete or by chloride penetration to steel level. A concep- trolled manner so that their individual and cumulative effects on
tual model1 to estimate the service life of corroding reinforced structural capacity can be quantified. The parameters of rein-
concrete is based on corrosion initiation and corrosion propaga- forcement corrosion which are routinely monitored in the field,
tion time periods. Steel is depassivated at the end of the corro- i.e., time of corrosion initiation, and rates of reinforcement cor-
sion initiation period either because of the presence of threshold rosion need to be related to the residual structural capacity of re-
levels of chloride concentration on its surface or because of loss inforced members so that decisions on optimal repair/
of alkalinity of the cover concrete due to carbonation. Research maintenance strategies can be made. The experimental investi-
on the corrosion initiation period has reported different thresh- gation presented in this paper makes a significant contribution
old levels of chloride concentration which depassivate steel.2-4 to satisfy this need by developing analytical expressions (and
Models for predicting long-term chloride concentration from nomograms) which can be used to determine the long-term
routine inspection data of concrete construction have also been structural capacity of reinforced concrete beams undergoing dif-
derived.5,6 Field methods for determining the corrosion propaga- ferent degrees of reinforcement corrosion. The degree of corro-
tion rates in reinforced concrete have been developed,7-10 which sion is a function of rate of corrosion, duration of corrosion
assist with service life predictions. period (since initiation), and reinforcing bar diameter.
The next link required in the service life prediction of corrod-
ing structures is a knowledge of the residual strength of rein-
forced concrete elements as affected by the degree of ACI Structural Journal, V. 96, No. 1, January-February 1999.
Received September 29, 1997, and reviewed under Institute publication policies.
reinforcement corrosion. A number of researchers have attempt- Copyright  1999, American Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including the
making of copies unless permission is obtained from the copyright proprietors. Perti-
ed to define the service life of corroding reinforced concrete. It nent discussion will be published in the November-December 1999 ACI Structural
has been suggested that 10 to 25 percent reduction in steel bar Journal if received by July 1, 1999.

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999 149

ACI member Pritpal S. Mangat is a professor of construction materials and head of
the Built Environment Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield,
England. He is a member of ACI Committee 544, Fiber Reinforced Concrete. His
research interests include long-term performance of concrete repair, high-perfor-
mance materials derived from industrial waste products, and fiber reinforced cement

Mahmoud S. Elgarf is a consultant on repair and rehabilitation of reinforced con-

crete structures in Cairo, Egypt. He obtained his PhD from the University of Aberdeen

Fig. 1—Beam specimens with stirrup reinforcement (Groups 1
Test program and 4).
Details of the test program are given in Table 1. Nine groups
of beam specimens were manufactured for the experimental
study. A total of 111 under-reinforced beams were subjected to
accelerated corrosion damage by two external power supply
sources and then tested under flexure. The degree of corrosion
(as a percentage reduction in reinforcing bar diameter) is de-
fined by the expression 2RT/D percent, where R is the rate of
corrosion in mm/year, D is the reinforcing bar diameter in mm,
and T is the time elapsed in years after corrosion initiation. In
Table 1, the corrosion rate is defined as the intensity of the in-
duction current provided from the external power supply. Cor-
rosion duration is defined as the time taken to complete the Fig. 2—Beam specimens of Groups 2, 5, 6, 8, and 9 (without
induction of corrosion in reinforcement to the desired degree. stirrup reinforcement).
The precorrosion period is defined as the duration of curing the
beams in water (after demolding) prior to inducing corrosion in cement content was 425 kg/m3 (715 lb/yd3 ). One percent (by
the reinforcement and, therefore, simulates the period after weight of cement) sodium chloride salt was added to the mix to
which corrosion is initiated in the reinforcement. improve concrete conductivity so that accelerated galvanic cor-
The under-reinforced concrete beam specimens were 910-mm rosion could be induced as described in Section 2.3 by means of
(36-in.) long and had a rectangular cross section of 150-mm (6- external current supply. The average compressive strength of
in.) depth, 100-mm (4-in.) width. Each beam specimen was sin- the concrete cubes after 28 days was 40 N/mm 2 (5.8 ksi), with a
gly reinforced with two deformed steel bars of 10-mm (0.4-in.) standard deviation of 1 N/mm 2. The concrete mix was cast hor-
diameter (8 mm in Groups 3 and 7 in Table 1) as shown in Fig. izontally in the beam molds and compacted by means of an elec-
1 and 2. The bars were 1100-mm (43-in.) long, including the an- tric poker vibrator. After casting, the molds were covered with
chorage length in the form of U-shaped hooks at the ends. The polythene sheets for 24 hr and then demolded. After demolding,
reinforcing bars were positioned symmetrically in the cross sec- the beam specimens were cured by complete immersion in wa-
tion at a spacing of 50 mm (2 in.), and the cover to the centroid ter for periods ranging between 10 days and one year, as shown
of tensile reinforcement was 25 mm. Double-leg stirrups made in Table 1. Although corrosion is active, even under water, in
with mild steel bars of 6-mm (0.24-in.) diameter were provided highly chloride contaminated concrete due to O2 diffusion into
at a spacing of 70 mm (2.75 in.) in specimens of Groups 1 and saturated concrete, the rate is very slow and is negligible relative
4 in Table 1. Two 6-mm (0.24-in.) diameter longitudinal bars to corrosion induced by external current supply (Section 2.3).
were also provided at the top of the beam to hold the reinforce- The control beams tested after the pre-curing period of 10 days
ment cage together (Fig. 1). The presence of stirrups interfered and 1 year showed no reinforcement corrosion. After precuring,
with the corrosion-inducing phase in the reinforcement and specimens were transferred to the accelerated corrosion induc-
made it impossible to maintain an accurate and uniform control ing apparatus for periods between 12 and 384 hr to induce dif-
on the degree of reinforcing bar corrosion. Consequently, no stir- ferent rates of corrosion in the reinforcement as described in the
rups and no top steel were provided in the beam specimens of next section. After inducing a predetermined degree of corro-
Groups 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Instead, shear reinforcement was sion in the reinforcement (Table 1), the beams were again cured
provided by means of external collars as described in Section under immersion in water until they were ready for flexural test-
2.4. ing after a total age of 28 days after casting (except for Group 9
tests where the beams were tested at 1 year after casting).
Materials and mixes
Ordinary portland cement was used throughout. The fine ag- Accelerated corrosion in reinforcement
gregate was a washed concrete sand conforming to the medium After a minimum period of 11 days after casting, each beam
zone of BS 882:1965 (FM 2.15 to 3.45). The coarse aggregate specimen of Groups 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 (Table 1) was subjected
was 10 mm maximum size crushed grey granite. The reinforcing to an accelerated galvanic corrosion process in an electrolytic
bars used in the experiments were standard 10 and 8-mm diame- cell by means of two identical integrated systems. Each system
ter high-yield bars. The yield strength of the reinforcement bars incorporated a direct current power supply with a built-in am-
was 520 N/mm2 (75.4 ksi) and modulus of elasticity was 206 meter to monitor the cell current. Fig. 3 shows the layout of the
kN/mm 2 (29,877 ksi). corrosion setup. The corrosion process of reinforcing bars took
The concrete mix used for the beams had proportions (by place in a plastic tank where 3.5 percent NaCl solution was used
weight) of 1:2.24:3.22 with a water-cement ratio of 0.53. The as the electrolyte. The solution level in the tank was adjusted to

150 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999

in 1994. His research interests include corrosion science.

151 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999

Table 1—Experimental program
Degree of Corrosion
No. of corrsion, * rate, Precorrosion Corrosion
Group no. Reinforcement details specimens percent mA/cm 2 curing period duration, hr
1 2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars
2 — — — —
Control φ 6 mm reinforcing bars
2 2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars 3 — — — —
Control No stirrups
3 2 φ 8 mm reinforcing bars 2 — — — —
Control No stirrups
2 2.5 3 15 days 32
2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars
φ 6 mm reinforcing bars 2 5.0 3 16 days 64
One reinforcing bar 2 7.5 3 17 days 96
corroding only
2 10.0 3 18 days 128
2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars 2 2.5 3 15 days 32
No stirrups 2 5.0 3 16 days 64
5 Both reinforcing bars
corroding in alternative 2 7.5 3 17 days 96
sequence 2 10.0 3 18 days 128
3 1.25 3 15 days 16
3 2.50 3 15 days 32
2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars
No stirrups 3 3.75 3 17days 48
Both reinforcing bars 3 5.00 3 15 days 64
corroding simultaneously
3 7.50 3 15 days 96
3 10.0 3 15 days 128
2 2.5 2 15 days 32
2 φ 8 mm reinforcing bars
No stirrups 2 5.0 2 15 days 64
Both reinforcing bars 2 7.5 2 15 days 96
corroding simultaneously
2 10.0 2 17 days 128
3 1.25 1 15 days 48
3 2.50 1 15 days 96
3 3.75 1 15 days 144
3 5.00 1 15 days 192
3 7.50 1 12 days 288
3 10.0 1 10 days 384
3 1.25 2 15 days 24
3 2.50 2 15 days 48
2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars
No stirrups 3 3.75 2 15 days 72
Both reinforcing bars 3 5.00 2 15 days 96
corroding simultaneously
3 7.50 2 15 days 144
3 10.0 2 15 days 192
3 1.25 4 15 days 12
3 2.50 4 15 days 24
3 3.75 4 15 days 36
3 5.00 4 15 days 48
3 7.50 4 15 days 72
3 10.0 4 15 days 96
2 5.0 3 15 days 64
2 φ 10 mm reinforcing bars
No stirrups 2 5.0 3 28 days 64
Both reinforcing bars 2 5.0 3 6 months 64
corroding simultaneously
2 5.0 3 1 year 64
(2RT/D) percent.
Note: 1 mA/cm2 = 6.4 mA/in. 2

slightly exceed the concrete cover plus reinforcing bar diameter diameter (excluding the bent-up portion) within a short times-
to ensure adequate submersion of the longitudinal reinforcement, cale. The relationship between corrosion current density and the
excluding the vertical portion of the bent up bars at the ends of the weight of metal lost due to corrosion was determined by applying
beam. The current intensity of the power supply and the corrosion Faraday’s law19 as follows
period were selected for each beam in order to achieve the desired
degree of corrosion of the submerged level of reinforcement bar, as ∆ ω = -------- (1)
shown in Table 1. Each degree of corrosion was selected to pro- ZF
vide a predefined percentage reduction in the longitudinal bar

ACI StructuralJournal/January-February 1999 152

The expression 2R T/D percent, which represents reduction in
reinforcing bar diameter due to corrosion over T years, is also de-
fined as the degree of reinforcement corrosion in this paper.
Substituting for R from Eq. (5) into (6) gives percent reduc-
tion in reinforcing bar diameter 2R T/D percent

= 2312i ---- (7)

The example below shows how corrosion simulation periods

in the laboratory (listed in Table 1) are derived from Eq. (7) and
how they relate with corrosion periods in the field.
For a selected degree of corrosion, such as 2RT/D = 2.5 percent,
reinforcing bar diameter, D = 10 mm, and corrosion current den-
Fig. 3—Layout of corrosion setup. sity of 1mA/cm2 adopted in the laboratory, the time period re-
quired for inducing corrosion is [from Eq. 7)]:T = 4 days.
where Under field conditions, a current density of 10 µA/cm 2 (64.5
∆ω = metal weight lost due to corrosion µA/in.2 ), for example, can result in high rates of corrosion. To
A = atomic weight of iron (56 g) achieve the same degree of corrosion as in the laboratory (2R
I = corrosion current (amp) T/D = 2.5 percent) on a 10-mm-diameter reinforcing bar, the
t = time elapsed (sec) corrosion period in the field would be [from Eq. (7)]: T = 1.08
Z = valency of the reacting electrode (iron), which is 2 year.
F = Faraday’s constant (96,500 amp sec) Preliminary tests were carried out before commencing the
The metal weight loss due to corrosion can also be expressed as formal research program reported in this paper to confirm the
reliability of the accelerated corrosion inducing apparatus to
∆ ω = a δγ (2) provide accurately the predefined (calculated) percentage re-
ductions in reinforcing bar diameter. Beam specimens shown in
where Fig. 2 were used for the investigation. The results showed that
a = reinforcing bar surface area before corrosion (cm2 ) the calculated reductions in reinforcing bar diameter [Eq. (1)]
δ = material loss (cm) were well within 10 percent error of the measured reduction in
reinforcing bar diameter after the corrosion inducing period.
γ = density of material (g/cm3)
The corrosion current can be expressed as As shown in Table 1, for each beam specimen of Group 4
tests, one longitudinal bar only was subjected to corrosion while
the second one was left uncorroded. For each of the beams of
I = ia (3)
Group 5, the corrosion of each of the reinforcing bars took place
in turns, while for Groups 6 to 9, both the reinforcing bars were
where i = corrosion current density (amp/cm2). subjected to the same amount of corrosion simultaneously. Four
Substituting from Eq. (2) and (3) into (1) gives
degrees of corrosion were investigated for Groups 4, 5, and 7,
i.e., 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, and 10 percent reduction in bar diameter,
Ai t whereas for Group 6, six degrees of corrosion were investigated,
δ = ---------- (4)
γZ F i.e., 1.25, 2.5, 3.75, 5.0, 7.5, and 10 percent reduction in bar di-
ameter. The beams of Groups 1, 2, and 3 underwent no corro-
Considering steel reinforcement in concrete, the density of sion and, therefore, provided control specimens to which
iron γ = 7.86 g/cm3 (0.49 lb/ft3), and values for A, Z, and F from performance of other beams were related. Group 6 and 8 tests
above can be substituted in Eq. (4). were designed to examine the flexural load capacity of corro-
If R is defined as the material loss per year (cm/year), its value sion damaged beams when corrosion was induced at four differ-
can be determined from Eq. (4) by substituting t = 1 year (in ap- ent rates: 1, 2, 3, and 4mA/cm 2. Group 9 was designed to
propriate units) to give investigate the effect of precorrosion curing period (time before
corrosion is first initiated in the reinforcement) on the flexural load
capacity of subsequently corrosion-damaged beams. The investiga-
R = 1156i  ----------
(5) tion involved testing the flexural load capacity of 5.0 percent corro-
 year
sion damaged beams when corrosion was induced at a rate of 3 mA/
cm 2 (19.4 mA/in.2) after four different pre-corrosion curing peri-
As an example, for a corrosion current density i of 1 mA/cm 2, ods: 15 days, 28 days, 6 months, and 1 year.
the corrosion rate R equals 1.156 cm/year [from Eq. (5)].
If in a reinforced concrete structure the period of corrosion af-
Flexural testing
ter initiation is T years, then metal loss after T years = RT (cm) At the age of 28 days after casting (up to 1 year for the beams
Therefore, percent reduction in reinforcing bar diameter in T of Group 9), the specimens were tested under four-point bend-
years ing to determine their load-deflection curves and the ultimate
flexural strength. Fig. 4 shows the arrangement for flexural test-
2R T ing and external shear reinforcement of the beams. The middle-
= ---------- × 1 0 0 (6)
D third span of the beam which undergoes pure bending is free

153 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999

Fig. 4—Arrangement for four-point bending tests and external
shear reinforcement.
Fig. 6—Load-deflection curves of corroded reinforced concrete
beams (Groups 2 and 8). (Corrosion rate: 4 mA/cm2 .)

Fig. 5—Load-deflection curves of corroded reinforced concrete

beams (Groups 2 and 8). (Corrosion rate: 2 mA/cm2.)
Fig. 7—Effect of corrosion rates on load-deflection relation-
from shear reinforcement. Beams in which stirrup reinforce- ship of corroded beams. (Corrosion degree: 2.5 percent.)
ment was not provided (Fig. 2) were prevented from shear fail-
ure by externally reinforcing the shear zones by means of
tubular steel collars (Fig. 4). This ensured that all beams devel-
oped their full flexural resistance and ultimately suffered a typ-
ical flexural failure in the middle-third span. A transducer was
employed to monitor the beam deflection. The outputs of the
testing machine and the transducer were connected to a chart re-
corder to plot the load-deflection curves. The testing machine
loading rate was 5 kN/min (1124 lb force/min).


Load-deflection curves
Average load-deflection relationships for the beam specimens
were obtained by combining the results of two or three specimens
tested in each case as indicated in Table 1. Some typical load-de-
flection curves are shown in Fig. 5 to 8. Fig. 5 and 6 show that
the degree of corrosion (2RT/D percent) induced in the steel re-
inforcement at different corrosion rates has a marked influence Fig. 8—Effect of corrosion rate on load-deflection relationship
on the load-deflection curves. The slope of the load-deflection of corroded beams. (Corrosion degree: 7.5 percent.)
curves in Fig. 5 and 6 increases with increasing degree of rein-
forcement corrosion (2RT/D percent), thereby indicating a grad- rates should be used for inducing reinforcement corrosion, espe-
ual reduction in stiffness of the beams. Fig. 7 shows that the cially when the simulated degree of corrosion (2 RT/D percent)
influence of different corrosion rates (1 to 4 mA/cm2 ) used for is required to be high.
inducing a relatively low degree of corrosion of up to 2.5 percent Simulation of field conditions of corrosion in the laboratory
on the load-deflection curves is fairly small. Similar corrosion is an approximate process. Chloride contamination of concrete
rates when used to induce a higher degree of corrosion of 7.5 per- in the field normally results in localized pitting corrosion of re-
cent (Fig. 8) lead to the load-deflection curves being much more inforcement in the early stages. At a more advanced stage of de-
corrosion-rate-dependent. This indicates that for accelerated cor- terioration which leads to serviceability failure, this type of
rosion testing in the laboratory, the lowest practical corrosion corrosion becomes widespread due to the formation of multiple

ACI StructuralJournal/January-February 1999 154

crete beams with no reinforcement corrosion and on beams
which suffered different degrees of reinforcement corrosion.
The control beams exhibited a classical bending failure of an
under-reinforced beam. The failure of the corroded beams was
initiated by bond failure at the longitudinal reinforcement inter-
face. At 60 to 70 percent of the failure load, horizontal splitting
of concrete occurred along the tensile reinforcement interface. At
about 90 percent of the failure load, vertical tensile cracks typical
of flexural failure appeared in the pure-bending zone of the
beams, as shown in Fig. 9, which led to failure. The failure
mechanism may be explained in terms of the bond between lon-
gitudinal reinforcement and concrete being reduced by rein-
forcement corrosion to an extent that, as load increased,
transmission of stresses between the two materials gradually be-
came concentrated at the beam ends where anchorage was pro-
vided by the bent portions of reinforcement. These portions of
the reinforcement were not corroded since they were above the
submerged level of the beams during the accelerated corrosion-
inducing process (Section 2.3). As the applied load increased,
Fig. 9—Typical mode of failure under four-point bending test the pullout stresses at the anchorages increased until a stage was
of: (i) control beams with uncorroded reinforcement; and (ii) reached when full anchorage was no longer maintained. As a re-
beams with corroded reinforcement. sult, the moment of resistance provided by the tensile reinforce-
ment was controlled by the anchorage (bond) of the bars and its
pitting sites. The resulting deterioration resembles the effects of magnitude was less than that provided by fully bonded tensile
uniform corrosion, causing extensive cracking, staining, and reinforcement bars that yield at failure. Ultimate failure oc-
spalling of the cover concrete. The initiation of corrosion is like- curred due to vertical tensile cracking in the maximum bending
ly to occur at the stirrup reinforcement surface which has the moment zone as shown in Fig. 9. Levels of destruction which
minimum concrete cover. Then the overall corrosion mecha- were observed at the beam ends (anchorage zone) just before
nism of the tensile steel becomes more complex with portions of beam failure confirm that final failure of the beams did not take
longitudinal bars acting as anodes and others as cathodes. Thus, place until anchorage at the beam ends was no longer main-
there are countervailing influences occurring; internal stirrups tained.
may improve flexural resistance, but corrosion rates of the ten- Considering the data obtained for Groups 1 to 7 tests (Table
sile steel could be higher because of the stirrups. In this paper,
1), graphs are plotted in Fig. 10 between the degree of reinforce-
the shear reinforcement was provided by external means by us- ment corrosion (2RT/D percent) and the average flexural load
ing steel collars.
capacity of corroded beams as a percentage of the average load
The loss of flexural capacity of beams is likely to be insignif- capacity of the corresponding control beams. These graphs
icant when localized pockets of pitting corrosion occur on the stir- show a clear relationship between degree of corrosion and the re-
rup and longitudinal reinforcement bars. Large reductions in duction in flexural strength. The results presented in Fig. 10 show
flexural capacity (strength and flexural rigidity), rendering a beam that, relative to other groups, higher values of flexural load capac-
inadequate for serviceability loads, are likely to occur only when ity are associated with the beams of Group 4. This is due to the
localized pitting has extended to many sites resulting in extensive fact that only one of the two reinforcing bars underwent corro-
and relatively uniform levels of corrosion. Such corrosion sion in the Group 4 tests, and in addition, the beam specimens
would cover sufficiently large surface area of reinforcement to of this group were also provided with internal stirrup reinforce-
cause considerable cracking, staining, and spalling of the con- ment which would have had a beneficial effect on the bond
crete cover zone. In the case of carbonated concrete, similarly strength of corroded reinforcement in concrete due to the con-
significant reductions in flexural capacity would result when finement provided by the stirrups.
uniform corrosion occurs over large surface areas of reinforce-
The remaining groups of tests represented in Fig. 10 show
ment, leading to cracking and spalling of the cover concrete.
similar reductions in flexural load capacity due to different de-
The complex conditions of field corrosion need to be simulat- grees of reinforcement corrosion. This suggests that different se-
ed in a simple but representative manner in the laboratory to aid quences of corroding the two reinforcing bars (alternating or
systematic research upon which decisions to strengthen or provide simultaneous) has an insignificant influence on flexural capacity.
nonstructural repair to structures can be made. The method used The residual flexural strength of the beams was also calculated us-
in this investigation to induce accelerated corrosion in the labora- ing the standard composite mechanics expression for moment of
tory is a satisfactory simulation of field conditions which result resistance of under-reinforced beams given in relevant codes
in significant reduction in flexural capacity. The relatively sim- such as ACI 318-89 and BS 8110. The reduction in reinforcing
ple procedure of corroding the flexural reinforcement only is bar diameter due to corrosion was taken into account. The cal-
used in this investigation, but more complex procedures can be culated values bear no relationship with the experimental results
considered in the future based on the findings of this research. plotted in Fig. 10. For example, at a corrosion degree of 10 per-
cent, the calculated residual strength in flexure is over 80 per-
Flexural strength cent of the control beam whereas the corresponding
Fig. 9 shows the typical modes of flexural failure which oc- experimental results of beams with simultaneously corroding
curred under four-point bending tests on control reinforced con- reinforcing bars is between 20 to 30 percent. Similar differences

155 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999

Fig. 10—Relationship between degree of corrosion (2RT/D Fig. 12—Effect of precorrosion curing period on flexural
percent) and flexural strength of beams. strength of corroded beams.

Fig. 11—Effect of corrosion rate on flexural strength of beams. Fig. 13—Relation between degree of corrosion (2RT/D per-
cent) and flexural strength of beams. (Corrosion rate: 1 mA/
exist at lower degrees of reinforcement corrosion. This indicates corroded beams
that the interfacial bond strength reduction at the steel/concrete Fig. 13 shows the relationship between the degree of corrosion
interface is the primary factor responsible for the deterioration (2RT/D percent) and the flexural load capacity B (as a percentage
of flexural capacity of the corroded beams of this investigation of the control beam) of the beams of Group 8 tests (Table 1) which
rather than the reduction in reinforcing bar cross section. were corroded at a rate of 1mA/cm2 (6.45 mA/in 2). The individual
Fig. 11 illustrates the effect of corrosion rate on the flexural results of the three beam specimens tested at each of the different
load capacity of beams damaged by different degrees of corro- degrees of corrosion (2RT/D percent) of 1.25 to 10 percent are
sion induced in the reinforcement at four different corrosion shown separately. Nominal scatter between the results of individ-
rates: 1, 2, 3, and 4 mA/cm2. Up to a corrosion degree of 3.75 per- ual beams is evident (coefficient of correlation 95 percent). A
cent (2RT/D = 3.75 percent), the results in Fig. 11 show a small nonlinear regression analysis of the experimental data gives the
effect of corrosion rate on flexural load capacity. However, at a following relation between B percent and 2 RT/D percent.
corrosion degree of 5 percent and beyond, the flexural load ca-
pacity decreases significantly with increasing corrosion rate.
 
B percent =  1 – sin 7  ----------percent 1 0 0
Fig. 12 presents results of the flexural capacity of beams of Group 2 2R T
9 which were damaged by 5 percent degree of reinforcement corro-  D 
sion at a rate of 3 mA/cm2. The beams were pre-cured for dif-
ferent periods (15 days, 28 days, 6 months, 1 year) before
corrosion was induced. The results show that the residual flexural Similar relationships of the form
strength of the corroded beams for each of the pre-curing periods
is about 70 percent of the control beams. The implication of this 
B percent =  1 – sin ψ  2----------percent
2 RT  1 0 0 (9)
result is that the age of a concrete structure when corrosion initi-  D 
ation occurs may not have any significant effect on the residual 
strength of the corroded elements when corrosion in the rein-
forcement has propagated to a significant degree. are obtained for beams in which corrosion was induced at rates of
2, 3, and 4 mA/cm 2 (Groups 6 and 8, Table 1). A typical example
Development of residual strength equation of of such a relationship shown by the experimental data is given in

ACI StructuralJournal/January-February 1999 156

Fig. 14—Typical relationship between degree of corrosion and Fig. 15—Comparison between experimental and calculated
flexural strength of beams. (Corrosion rate: 4 mA/cm2.) flexural strength of corroded beams [Eq. (11)].

Table 2—Values of coeffecient ψ corresponding to

corrosion current density i
i, µA/cm 2 ψ
1000 7.0
2000 7.5
3000 8.0
4000 8.5

Fig. 14. In Eq. (9), ψ is a constant which varies with the corrosion
rate adopted.
As previously explained, the corrosion rate R due to a current
density i of 1 mA/cm 2 works out to be 1.156 cm/year (0.46 in./
year). Therefore, a general expression can be obtained by sub-
stituting for R in terms of current density i in Eq. (9). This gen- Fig. 16—Predicted flexural strength with time [Eq. (11)] of
eral expression relates the flexural load capacity (B percent) of reinforced concrete beams corroding at different rates. (Corro-
the beam to the corrosion current density i, the time elapsed in sion currents 10 to 60 µA/cm2 .)
years since the initiation of corrosion (T), and the diameter of re-
inforcement ( D) as follows Eq. (11) has been used to produce nomograms for determin-
ing the residual strength of corroding beams reinforced with re-
 inforcing bars of different diameters. A typical example is given
T 
B percent =  1 – sin  2.312 ψ ----i 1 0 0
(10) in Fig. 16. The range of corrosion current densities covered are
 D 
10 µ A/cm2 (64.5 mA/in. 2) to 60 µ A/cm2 (387 mA/in. 2) which
represent the likely range of values encountered in field struc-
Table 2 presents the values of the corrosion current density (i tures undergoing high to very high rates of reinforcement corro-
µA/cm2 ) and the corresponding values of the coefficient ψ de- sion. Current information available in literature, based on outdoor
termined from the nonlinear regression analysis of the experi- exposure and field studies, shows that high rates of corrosion oc-
mental results. These values of ψ are approximately the natural cur at Icorr values exceeding 1 µ A/cm2 (6.45 µ A/in.2 )20 and 2.7 to
logarithm of the corresponding values of current density (ψ = 27 µA/cm2 .16,21 Very high rates of corrosion are expected at Icorr
lni). Therefore, Eq. (10) can be rewritten as values exceeding 10 µ A/cm2 (64.5 µA/in.2) 20 and exceeding 27
µA/cm2 .16,21 Field data on some highway bridges in the UK also
showed high corrosion currents in the range 10 to 60 µA/cm2 .
  1 0 0
B percent =  1 – sin  2.312----ilni
Nomograms at lower corrosion currents, however, can also be
 

 D easily derived from Eq. (11). The countervailing influences of in-
ternal stirrup reinforcement improving flexural resistance while
Considering the relationship described by Eq. (11), a graph is also increasing the rates of corrosion in the longitudinal rein-
plotted in Fig. 15 representing the equation and the correspond- forcement (which reduces flexural strength) are not covered by
ing experimental data obtained in this investigation. Fig. 15 the nomograms since, in the tests reported, shear reinforcement
shows that up to a corrosion degree 2R T/D of 3.75 percent, val- was externally provided by collars.
ues of the flexural load capacity calculated from Eq. (11) are in
good agreement with the experimental results. At higher de- Further discussion
grees of corrosion, the predicted flexural capacity from Eq. (11) The predictive model for residual strength of corroded rein-
becomes more conservative. forced concrete beams presented in Eq. (11) provides a conser-

157 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999

vative estimate of their residual strength. This is because the Since the value of the natural logarithm of unity equals zero
effect of internal stirrup (shear) reinforcement on maintaining (ln1 = 0), the residual flexural capacity of a beam undergoing
the flexural capacity of a corroding beam has not been included corrosion at a rate of 1 µA/cm2 , as calculated from Eq. (11), will
in the prediction model. The residual flexural capacity of beams always be 100 percent, despite the fact that, in practice, some
was determined following induced accelerated corrosion in the re- loss in strength will occur after an infinitely long period of ex-
inforcement within 12 to 384 hr. Such corrosion periods are gross posure. This, however, is only a theoretical limitation with little
reductions of actual corrosion periods of many years which occur practical significance since in the field, higher corrosion cur-
in real practice to produce the same degree of corrosion. These rents are associated with corrosion rates which cause deteriora-
differences in accelerated and normal corrosion periods can have tion of reinforced concrete structures.16,17,21
a significant influence on residual strength. Longer corrosion Another limitation of Eq. (11) is that the rate of reinforcement
periods allow the corrosion products to be dissipated gradually corrosion (i) is assumed as a single value. However, corrosion
in the pore structure of the concrete matrix, thereby reducing the of reinforcement in concrete structures is believed not to pro-
radial stresses exerted at the reinforcing bar/concrete interface. ceed at a constant rate throughout the corrosion propagation
The gradual dissipation of corrosion products under long corro- stage.22,23 The initial corrosion rate is low but it increases to a
sion periods in the field and the migration of Na+ and other ions maximum value as the depassivation of steel is completed. In
may also cause softening of the cover concrete. In the case of ac- the longer term diffusion, barriers against agents of corrosion
celerated corrosion, in the laboratory, however, the rapid pro- (i.e., oxygen, moisture, and salts) are formed as a result of grad-
duction of corrosion products allows little time for their ual accumulation of corrosion products at the steel/concrete in-
dissipation in the pore structure, and there was no evidence of terface. The result is a lowering of the corrosion rate. The
any softening of the cover concrete. Instead, accelerated corro- corrosion products are of a fragile nature and, therefore, the dif-
sion results in greater radial stresses at the interface resulting in fusion barrier developed by them is unable to grow indefinitely.
more immediate and extensive cracking and debonding than It cracks as it grows as a result of stresses exerted upon it. After
may occur in real practice. In the laboratory experiments, as ac- a period of time the thickness of the diffusion barrier will reach a
celerated corrosion was induced in the tension reinforcement maximum value and, therefore, it can be assumed that the avail-
bars of the beams, longitudinal cracks appeared on the soffit di- ability of corrosion agents (oxygen and moisture, etc.) at the in-
rectly underneath each of the two reinforcing bars and extended terface will be minimum, resulting in the lowest corrosion rate.
parallel to the reinforcement along its length. Another similar Further refinement of the predictive model for residual strength
longitudinal crack appeared on the side face of the beam directly as represented by Eq. (11) is possible in the future to take ac-
adjacent to each reinforcing bar. These were typical tensile count of the variations of corrosion rates.
cracks caused by the radial stresses exerted by the expansive
corrosion products. The maximum crack widths on the beam CONCLUSIONS
soffit corresponding to the degree of corrosion (percent reduc- The conclusions presented in this paper pertain to concrete
tion in reinforcement diameter) of 2.5, 3.75, 5, and 7.5 percent beams reinforced with longitudinal bars which undergo differ-
were 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and 0.4 mm, respectively. The crack widths ent degrees of accelerated corrosion in the laboratory, simulat-
were also influenced significantly by the induced corrosion rate ing corrosion in the field. Countervailing interactions with
(mA/cm2 ). For example, a degree of corrosion of 5 percent in- stirrup reinforcement are not represented since shear reinforce-
ment was provided externally.
duced at a corrosion rate of 1, 2, and 3 mA/cm2 resulted in max-
imum crack widths of 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 mm, respectively. The 1. Reinforcement corrosion in concrete has a marked effect
effect of the rate at which corrosion products are deposited on on both the flexural load capacity and deflection of beams. At a
degree of corrosion (2R T/D percent) of 10 percent, for example,
tension cracking is obvious from these observations. An exten-
sive investigation on the effect of reinforcement corrosion on the residual strength reduces to about 25 percent of the flexural
capacity of the control beam.
the bond in flexural elements was also carried out in this re-
2. The period of precuring beams (up to 1 year) before corro-
search project. The detailed results, which are under separate
sion is induced in the reinforcement has no influence on their
publication, show that under small degrees of reinforcement
flexural strength.
corrosion (less than 0.5 percent), the flexural bond strength ex-
ceeds that of the control beams with corrosion-free reinforce- 3. The reduction in reinforcing bar cross section due to corro-
sion has an insignificant effect on the residual flexural strength of
ment. This increase is due to the confinement radial stresses on
beams. The reduction in residual strength is primarily due to the
the reinforcement surface induced by the expansive corrosion
loss or breakdown of the steel/concrete interfacial bond.
products since the cover zone does not crack at such small levels
4. The residual strength of flexural members undergoing cor-
of corrosion. At higher degrees of corrosion, the bond strength
rosion of longitudinal reinforcement is given by the following ex-
decreases very sharply, reaching values of under 60 percent (rel-
ative to control beams) at corrosion rates exceeding 2 percent.
Such large reductions in bond strength are caused by the conver-
sion of surface layers of steel reinforcement into corrosion prod-  
B percent =  1 – sin  2.312----ilni 1 0 0
2 T
ucts. This results in the breakdown of any chemical bond at the D
 
interface. Once the expansive corrosion products introduce suf-
ficient tension in the cover zone to cause cracking of the con-
crete, the confinement of the reinforcement bars is lost, and the where
corrosion products start migrating through the cracks. This re- B percent = percent of flexural strength of control beam
sults in a further loss of frictional mechanical bond. The loss of T = time elapsed in years after corrosion initiation
the reinforcing bar cross section through corrosion also reduces D = reinforcing bar diameter (mm)
the interlocking bond provided by deformed reinforcement bars. i = rate of corrosion (µ A/cm2)

ACI StructuralJournal/January-February 1999 158

5. Nomograms for predicting the long-term residual strength of 10. Feliu, S.; Gonzalez, J. A.; Andrade, C.; and Feliu, V., “Determining
corroding flexural members can be derived for various sizes of Polarization Resistance in Reinforced Concrete Slabs,” Corrosion Science, V.
29, 1989, pp. 105-113.
reinforcement bars.
11. Comité Euro-International du Béton, “Assessment of Concrete Struc-
tures and Design Proceedings for Upgrading,” Bulletin d’information, No.
This paper presents some of the results of an EC funded BRITE/EURAM
12. Rodriguez, J., and Andrade, C., “Load-Bearing Capacity Loss in
project BREU P3-91, “Assessment of Performance and Optimal Strategies
Corroding Structures,” American Concrete Institute, Spring Convention,
for Inspection and Maintenance of Concrete Structures Using Reliability
Canada, 1990.
Based Expert Systems.” The partners in this project are: Sheffield Hallam
University/Aberdeen University, UK; Labein, Bilbao, Spain; CSR, Aalborg, 13. Andrade, C.; Alonso, M. C.; and Gonzalez, J. A., “An Initial Effort to
Denmark; Instituto Superior Technico, Lisboa, Portugal; and Jahn Inge- Use the Corrosion Rate Measurements for Estimating Reinforcing Bar Dura-
nieurs Bureau, Brielle, Netherlands. bility,” ASTM Symposium on Corrosion Rate of Reinforcements in Concrete,
14. Okada, K.; Kobayshi, K.; and Miyagawa, T., “Influence of Longitudi-
CONVERSION FACTORS nal Cracking Due to Reinforcement Corrosion on Characteristics of Rein-
1 in. = 25.4 mm
forced Concrete Members,” ACI Structural Journal, Mar.-Apr. 1988, pp. 134-
1 lb-force = 4.448N 140.
1 lb = 0.454 kg
15. Al-Sulimani, G. J.; Kaleemullah, M.; Basunbul, I. A.; and
1 lb/yd 3 = 0.594 kg/m 3
Rasheeduzzafar, “Influence of Corrosion and Cracking on Bond Behaviour
1 lb/ft3 = 16 kg/m 3
and Strength of Reinforced Concrete Members,” ACI Structural Journal, V.
1 ksi = 6.895 MPa
87, No. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1990, pp. 220-231.
16. Clifton, J. R., and Pommersheim, J. M., “Predicting Remaining Ser-
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ACI Structural Journal/January-February 1999 159