A solid solution to crumbling infrastructure

Corrosion-resistant stainless steel rebar

April 28, 2016

SSRebarSamples_FrankSmith

As our infrastructure ages, concrete deterioration has become one of the most costly and widespread problems. Why? According to Dr. Karen Scrivener, Head of the Construction Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology, corrosion attack on rebar is “the cause of over 90% of problems of concrete durability”.*

And concrete structures that are exposed to de-icing salt, seawater or marine atmospheres are particularly susceptible to accelerated deterioration.

Getting inside the problem

Technically speaking, chloride ions, moisture and air (oxygen) migrate through the porous concrete cover and cause corrosion on the surface of the embedded carbon steel reinforcing bars (rebars). The resultant corrosion products (rust) occupy a greater volume than the steel from which they were formed. This increase in volume exerts pressure on the
surrounding concrete and causes it to crack.

The cracks allow further penetration of  chloride, moisture and oxygen down to the carbon steel—accelerating the corrosion process. Over time, the cracks enlarge and the concrete can spall.

Building stronger and longer— a remarkable example

In response to this growing problem, numerous laboratory tests and life cycle cost analyses have highlighted the benefits of using stainless steel rebar in order to achieve service lifetimes of 75-100 years without major repairs or rehabilitations.

The Progreso Pier in Yucatan, Mexico confirms these benefits. Completed in 1941, this two km-long reinforced concrete pier juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and is continuously exposed to a harsh tropical marine environment.

Recent concrete coring and detailed inspections have found the pier, constructed with nickel-containing Type 304 (UNS S30400) reinforcement, to be in excellent condition after 75 years of service—without any significant repair work.

Nickel’s role in the answer

Alloy producers have made significant advances over the past two decades, developing and making commercially available a range of corrosion-resistant stainless steel rebars (together with stainless steel tie-wire and rebar couplers). In fact, for the past twenty years or so, the most frequently specified stainless steel rebars have been the nickel-containing alloys Type 316LN (UNS S31653) and two duplex grades, Alloy 2205 (UNS S32205) and Alloy 2304 (UNS S32304)—together with a smaller amount of Type 304.

By adjusting alloy compositions, stainless steel rebar producers have been able to achieve an optimal combination of corrosion resistance, strength and formability. Alloy 2304 represents an attractive combination of these important properties—at a competitive price. This combination has led to the alloy being specified for several large bridges in recent years.

The new alloys in action

Alloy 2304 was recently selected for the new Champlain Bridge to be built over the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, Canada. With a proposed span of approximately 3.4km (excluding approaches), it is estimated that this bridge will require about 15,000 tonnes of Alloy 2304 rebar.

All of the nickel-containing stainless steel rebars retain good tensile strength and impact resistance at sub-zero temperatures. These properties are important for highway bridges which must endure severe winters—together with the application of lots of corrosive road salt.

Additional applications

Rebars made from Type 316LN and Type 304 retain good mechanical properties down to cryogenic temperatures which has led to their use in LNG storage facilities. Type 316LN is also a non-magnetic material and several hundred tons of this alloy rebar have been used in the construction of MRI facilities at hospitals and clinics—as well as for special laboratories and data storage facilities.

Longevity, corrosion resistance and strength reinforces the many uses of nickel-containing stainless steel rebar as a cost-effective,  farsighted solution.


 

 

Major bridge projects

 

LOCATION

YEAR

STAINLESS STEEL ALLOY/TYPE

TONNAGE (approx.)

Michigan, USA Bridge on I-696, near Detroit

1984

304

33

New Jersey, USA Garden State Parkway

1998

2205

165

Ireland, Broadmeadows Bridge

2003

316

90

Oregon, USA Haynes Inlet Bridge

2003

2205

400

New York, USA Belt Parkway Bridge, Brooklyn

2005

2205

200

New Jersey, USA Driscoll Bridge

2005

2205, 316LN

1300

Virginia–Maryland, USA Woodrow Wilson Bridge

2007

2205, 316LN

1100

Hong Kong, Shenzhen Western Corridor Bridge

2007

2205, 316

1300

Hong Kong, Stonecutters Bridge

2009

304

3000

Rhode Island, USA Sakonnet River Bridge

2010

2205

800

Minnesota, USA Hastings Bridge

2010

2304

367

Minnesota, USA Lafayette Bridge

2011

2304

1963

 

*Chemistry World, Vol 5, No3 March 2008

 

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