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Evaluation of Corrosion Resistant Steel Reinforcing in the Deck Slab of a Three Span Prestressed Girder Bridge

Man kneeling on a steel bridge deck

Attaching wires for data measurement


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

Student researchers:

Project status


Start date: 01/01/02
End date: 05/31/06


Report: Evaluation of Corrosion Resistance of Different Steel Reinforcement Types (2.5 mb pdf) May 2006

Tech transfer summary: Corrosion Resistance in Different Steel Reinforcement Types ( pdf) May 2006


Sponsor(s): Iowa Department of Transportation

About the research

Abstract: The corrosion of steel reinforcement in an aging highway infrastructure is a major problem currently facing the transportation engineering community. In the United States alone, maintenance and replacement costs for deficient bridges are measured in billions of dollars. The application of corrosion-resistant steel reinforcement as an alternative reinforcement to existing mild steel reinforced concrete bridge decks has potential to mitigate corrosion problems, due to the fundamental properties associated with the materials.

To investigate corrosion prevention through the use of corrosion-resistant alloys, the performance of corrosion resistance of MMFX microcomposite steel reinforcement, a high-strength, high-chromium steel reinforcement, was evaluated. The study consisted of both field and laboratory components conducted at the Iowa State University Bridge Engineering Center to determine whether MMFX reinforcement provides superior corrosion resistance to epoxy-coated mild steel reinforcement in bridge decks. Because definitive field evidence of the corrosion resistance of MMFX reinforcement may require several years of monitoring, strict attention was given to investigating reinforcement under accelerated conditions in the laboratory, based on typical ASTM and Rapid Macrocell accelerated corrosion tests.

After 40 weeks of laboratory testing, the ASTM ACT corrosion potentials indicate that corrosion had not initiated for either MMFX or the as-delivered epoxy-coated reinforcement. Conversely, uncoated mild steel specimens underwent corrosion within the fifth week, while epoxy-coated reinforcement specimens with induced holidays underwent corrosion between 15 and 30 weeks. Within the fifth week of testing, the Rapid Macrocell ACT produced corrosion risk potentials that indicate active corrosion for all reinforcement types tested. While the limited results from the 40 weeks of laboratory testing may not constitute a prediction of life expectancy and life-cycle cost, a procedure is presented herein to determine life expectancy and associated life-cycle costs.