Total corrosion management keeps Britain on the move

  • 24 Mar 2016

Mark Bushell, Business Unit Manager – Flooring and Refurbishment, Sika UK explains how total corrosion management solutions protect Britain’s roads.

The UK’s road networks accommodate up to 30 million drivers every day, meaning safety is absolutely paramount. With so many causes of structural or aesthetic deterioration, including pollution, natural damage and traffic collisions, our road bridges need a little help to keep them performing at their best.

Whilst concrete is a robust and durable building material, it is also under constant threat, and when it fails the results can be catastrophic – especially when it impacts on the transport system.

Dangers to a road’s lifespan include; vulnerability to water, airborne contaminates and the constant use of vehicles. As the UK transport network is constantly exposed to these hazards, it is important to not only renovate these roads, but ensure they are clean, safe and structurally sound.

As concrete is used in the construction of so many of the UK’s bridges and roads, it is vital that concrete is properly managed to ensure the highest levels of safety and maintenance.

Total corrosion management

Ignoring corrosion is simply not an option, and a total corrosion management solution always begins with a condition survey. A thorough condition survey can determines the cause of the deterioration and which technique should be applied for repairing the concrete structure. 

The appropriate technique will depend on the cause of the initial damage and whether the repair is to be fully load-bearing or cosmetic.

Concrete degradation can also lead to additional problems in reinforced concrete structures, such as decreased protection to the steel element. This in turn can lead to steel corrosion, often followed by cracking and spalling of the concrete which can cause structural damage.

Cathodic protection is the only way to completely top steel corrosion in existing reinforced concrete structures.

Another option is to provide additional concrete cover which is often costly and offers no protection against latent damage. 

A more cost-effective solution is the application of concrete repair and protection with corrosion inhibitors. Suitable for most structures, this low maintenance system reduces concrete break-out and provides protection against residual chlorides.

Concrete deterioration, particularly reinforcement corrosion due to the effects of de-icing salts and exhaust gases accelerating the carbonation process, has had a major impact on durability. From our much maligned and pothole-riddled roads to car park closures due to safety, these bad experiences only emphasise the need for improved performance in design, workmanship and materials selection.

As there are so many causes of structural and aesthetic deterioration, it’s important to identify the right product or treatment first time, every time. Whether it’s the correct waterproofing solution, installing the perfect structural reinforcement or supplying a system that will protect concrete against corrosion – a refurbishment solution must be trusted to stand the test of time.

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