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High quality portland cement concrete, properly placed, consolidated, and cured, provides an environment that will normally prevent corrosion of embedded steel. However, the technical literature abounds with evidence of serious problems related to corrosion of reinforcing steel in concrete, both in terms of frequency of occurrence and magnitude of resultant damage. Reinforced concrete highway structures (principally bridge decks) and structures exposed to seawater or marine atmospheric environments are most prone to this problem. The common denominator is the presence of chlorides which result from the application of deicing salts in the former instance and from the environment in the latter. The costs associated with repair or replacement of concrete bridge decks damaged by reinforcement corrosion is, and shall be for years to come, a major maintenance expense for many highway agencies [1, 2]. While highway bridges are expected to last 30 years or more, many show signs of deterioration in five years or less [3,4].
Professor of civil engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.