Volume 9 Preprint 11
Overview of cathodic protection of reinforced concrete structures bymeans of thermally sprayed zinc layers Ă˘â?Źâ?? a proven CP system
Dae-Kyeong Kim, J.D.Scantlebury, Srinivasan Muralidharan, Tae-Hyun Ha, Jeong-Hyo Bae, Yoon-Cheol Ha and Hyun-Goo Lee
Keywords: Zinc, thermal spray anodes, cathodic protection, concrete<br>Introduction
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Volume 9 Paper 11
Over view of cathodic protection of reinforced concrete structures by
means of thermally sprayed zinc layers â a proven CP system
Dae-Kyeong Kim1, J.D.Scantlebury2, Srinivasan Muralidharan1*,3, TaeHyun Ha1, Jeong-Hyo Bae1, Yoon-Cheol Ha1 and Hyun-Goo Lee1
Institute, 28-1, Seongju-dong, Changwon, 641-120, Republic of Korea.
Corrosion and Protection Centre, University of Manchester, M60 1QD,
Concrete Structures & Failure Analysis Group, Corrosion Protection
Division, Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudiâ 630 006,
Tamilnadu, India (e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org)
The cathodic protection (CP) of concrete structures by means of thermally
sprayed zinc layers is discussed. The status of research and the existing
problems in this area are reported. On the basis of literature, for CP of
concrete structures with respect to anode coatings, Ti based anodes are
effective but not very cost effective. Magnesium anodes are not found
suitable for spraying on the surfaces of the concrete. Sprayed aluminium is
not found stable in alkaline environments. Conducting polymer anodes are
still needs more attention. Even though small drawbacks encountered in
zinc anodes, thermal spraying of zinc on the concrete bridges and structures
are feasible and found effective.
This is a preprint of a paper that has been submitted for publication in the Journal of Corrosion Science
and Engineering. It will be reviewed and, subject to the reviewersâ comments, be published online at
http://www.umist.ac.uk/corrosion/jcse in due course. Until such time as it has been fully published it
should not normally be referenced in published work. ÂŠ UMIST 2004.
Key words: Zinc, thermal spray anodes, cathodic protection, concrete
Cathodic protection technology is a very promizing field as a fool-proof
technology for corrosion control. However cathodic protection as applied to
concrete structures and bridges is a challenging task owing to the
heterogeneous nature of concrete medium and also the high electrical
resistivity of the concrete. Because of the cost factor, even in the US and
other countries where bridge corrosion is a serious problem, cathodic
protection has been adopted only in a limited number of bridges. It is
necessary that, a realistic assessment and development of a cost effective
and viable cathodic protection system is the need of the hour such that any
construction industry can readily accept and adopt.
In the USA, the collapse of the Silver bridge into the Ohio River cost 40 lives
and millions of dollars. As per the report, an estimated $2 billion was spent
by US industry in 1997 for corrosion protection. Each year, the US navy
spends $ 200, 000 in preventive maintenance per air-craft. It can thus be
seen that, non-attention to corrosion may lead to considerable loss of
money. Apart from this direct loss, losses might also take place through
plant shutdowns, equipment failure, replacement of corroded items, loss of
products by leakage, contamination of products, over design of plants etc.,
While working out the cost of corrosion in any industry all these factors are
to be taken into account. Many attempts have been made in different
countries to estimate the annual cost of corrosion. The following table
chronologically projects the cost of corrosion in different countries.
Cost of corrosion
US $ 6000 million
US$ 39 millions
US$ 6000 millions
Federal Republic 1968-69
US$ 6900 millions
In 1969, Dr.T.P.Hoar committee of UK contacted about 600 industries and
major government organizations and on the basis of industry wise cost of
corrosion arrived at a figure of 1335 million pounds. Out of these, building
and construction industry itself contributed 250 million pounds. It is worth
noting that out of 1335 million pounds nearly 310 million pounds (23%) could
be saved through use of appropriate corrosion protection methods. The cost
of corrosion and its control in any country, for that matter in a highly
developed country such as the USA has been variously estimated as 2 to 5 %
of Gross National Product. Infact, W.Brain Holts Baum, president of the
National Association of Corrosion Engineers has stated as follows. âCorrosion
costs $1100 for every man, woman and child in the United States. The public
and Industry will continue to pay for unnecessary losses caused by corrosion
until corrosion control design and maintenance procedures are implemented
on a wide scale. The total annual costs of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes,
fires, lightning and earth quakes are less than the costs of corrosion.
Concrete structures such as bridges are vital for maintaining the life line of
transport uninterrupted. Many onshore and offshore bridges are built all
along the coast to transport men and materials. Other concrete structures
include harbours, offshore platforms, pipelines and structures of inter-land
development. Concrete bridges especially in the coastal regions are said to
be in distress. The durability of concrete structures exposed to marine
condition is affected even though they have been designed for a minimum
life of 60 years providing a trouble free life of only about 1/5th of the design
life. To increase the trouble free life of the structures, effective additional
protective measures must be undertaken at the initial stage itself. For the
mitigation of corrosion of rebars in concrete structures various protective
measures like coatings to steel rebars, coatings to concrete, modification of
steel, corrosion inhibitors, cathodic protection of steel rebars have been
reported. Each method of protection has its own merits, demerits and
limitations. Proper selection of method of protection can only lead to saving
of money and materials.
After extensive research and testing, the Federal Highway Administration,
USA issued the policy statement that the only rehabilitation technique that
has proven to stop corrosion in salt contaminated bridge decks, regardless of
the chloride content of the concrete is cathodic protection .
According to Hull, out of 5,00,000 bridge decks in the USA, 3,00,000 are
candidates for cathodic protection . Throughout the 1970âs a variety of
bridge deck cathodic protection designs was initiated, using different types
of anodes such as conductive coke asphalt overlays, platinum wire, graphite
fibre anodes and slot anodes surrounded by conductive polymer materials
etc.. During the early 1980âs systems using anodes that covered the
entire concrete surface were introduced [4-7]. The use of conductive
materials such as metallizing (Zn), conductive coatings, mesh or network of
conductive polymer cable became known during 1980-1981 . The Ontario
Ministry of Transportation, Canada had applied cathodic protection to about
40 structures till 1990 . In 1989, 287 cathodic protection systems on
bridge decks and substructures had been in operation in the US and Canada.
In the year 1991, 11 bridge systems were reported under operation .
Germanyâs first cathodic protection system for a chloride contaminated
reinforced concrete structure was installed in 1986 as a pilot project. The
system was switched off after 15 years because of traffic related
reconstruction. In 2001, Mietz et. al. from BAM, Germany made an
investigation of the conductive polymer/copper ore anode and reported that
irreversible changes had substantially decreased the polymers conductivity
limiting its functionality .
The following criteria have been compared for their reliability:
a. E- Logi test
b. 100 mV potential decay
c. 300 mV potential shift
d. â770 mV vs. CSE instantoff potential
e. â850 mV vs. CSE instantoff potential
Obviously the current required shifting the potential to â770 mV/ -850 mV
has been found to be much higher. 100 mV potential decay was initially
reported to be a reliable criterion but subsequently has been found to give
experimentation is somewhat complicated.
Electrical resistivity of the concrete has been found to be one of the factors
influencing the potential shift. In this respect, use of conductive polymer
anode was found to be highly advantageous. Conventional shot-crete overlay
system has been found to perform satisfactorily when compared to
conductive paint system.
In the case of sub-structures wide variations in current requirements were
observed in low tide and high tide cycles. One of the significant findings has
been the effect of migration of chlorides towards the surface. This
migrating chloride could cause disbondment of the conductive coating and
ultimately lead to failure of cathodic protection. These studies indicated
that impressed current cathodic protection system based on conductive
mastic or conductive concrete may not be effective in marine substructure
environments. Conductive rubber anodes have also been experimentally
used in the USA for marine substructure protection. Various investigations
have shown that the protection current density may lie in the range of 10-20
mA/m 2 of concrete surface area.
Internal graphite anodes mounted in
drilled holes inside the concrete structures have been found to be quite
useful. For effective monitoring of the cathodic protection embeddable
reference electrodes have been developed and used.
Stratfull had evaluated the various cathodic protection criteria on a
salvaged section of the bridge deck that was removed from the Gleebe Road
over crossing on the George Washington Memorial Parkway .
Eight experimental cathodic protection systems with 8 different types of
anodes were installed on piers of the Burlington Bay Skyway by the Research
and Development Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and
Communication during the year 1982â83 . Kessler and Langley evaluated
a cathodic protection system using conductive coatings and conductive
concrete in two deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge structures .
Kessler and Powers have evaluated the performance of conductive rubber
anodes to protect steel reinforced concrete piles in marine environments
Tellamanti have conducted long-term tests on mixed metal oxide titanium
anode expanded net and examined the chemical changes in concrete around
the anode surface during the functioning of the protection system . Of
all the embeddable reference electrodes studied, silver electrode showed
Brain Hope and John Poland studied the effect of rectifiers on the hydrogen
generation . The studies revealed that when the cathodic protection is
applied using commercial rectifier (unfiltered circuit) hydrogen was
produced when polarized potentials were more negative than â940 mV vs.
Hannah Schell and David Manning have evaluated the performance of metal
oxide titanium mesh anode on Freemanâs Bridge deck, Ontario . After 9
months of cathodic protection the physical condition of the deck surface
was examined and no delamination of the overlay had occurred in areas
where the anodes were installed.
Robert Brown and John Tinnea have discussed the problems in designing the
cathodic protection of reinforced concrete structures and suggested suitable
recommendations to obtain the designed life of a cathodic protection
system with minimum maintenance problems .
Funahasi and Bushman evaluated the influence of temperature and chloride
content on the amount of polarization shift required to protect the
reinforcing steel in concrete .
Kurt Nielsen et. al. have evaluated the performance of internal anodes
mounted in drilled holes inside the structures . The anode consisted of
graphite backfill material, which was injected into 12 mm dia. drilled holes.
This type of anode had the following advantages:- no additional weight, fast
and easy mounting, reduced problems with short circuits and applicable
where hot protection is required.
SHRP had conducted a survey on cathodic protection systems installed in
various interstate highway bridges in the US and Canada . Survey mainly
consisted of corrosion current density used, type of anode, measurement of
decay potential, chloride content and visual observations. Out of 287
cathodic protection installed bridges, 49 bridges were surveyed for the
efficiency of cathodic protection after 7 to 15 years of system installation.
Six types of anodes had been used. In bridge deck, the most commonly used
anodes were conductive asphalt with silicon iron anode, slotted carbon
filled conductive polymer anode, conductive cable anode and expanded
titanium mesh anode. In substructures, the anodes used were conductive
carbon paints and flame/arc sprayed coating. Of the 151 zones inspected,
only 18 zones were deemed to have failed by the criteria used by the
An intermittent impressed current cathodic protection technique using
photo voltaic energy has been evaluated for its ability to protect bridge
concrete piles .
A sacrificial magnesium anode installed on an underground reinforced
concrete structures was found to meet the established cathodic protection
criteria . The problems encountered while using thermal spray anodes of
zinc or titanium have been discussed in detail . Titanium based mesh
anode for CP of concrete structures was reported .
Cathodic Protection of reinforced concrete structures
Cathodic protection of reinforced concrete has been developed by a
combination of trial and error, fundamental research, applied research and
transfer of technology from related fields. These developments have been
underway for 35 years and have been progressed by civil engineers,
engineers. In the U.K. in 1993 the investment in repairs to reinforced
concrete structures incorporating cathodic protection has grown from a
minimal ÂŁ100,000 p.a. to some ÂŁ20 million p.a.  In Japan, concrete
structures exposed to marine environments are deteriorating due to
corrosion of reinforcement. Since this deterioration advances rapidly and
seriously, effective corrosion protection must be considered for both new
construction and damage-repair. Cathodic protection is expected to be a
practical corrosion protection system for all concrete structures in marine
environments. The developmental criteria for cathodic protection on
concrete structures and the examining of over-protection problem on
prestressed-concrete structures are two points were considered for the
establishment of high reliability for cathodic protection of concrete
structures . In Italy, the current and potential distributions measured on
concrete slabs and simulated by computer modeling are discussed in relation
with the application of cathodic protection to new reinforced structures as a
corrosion preventive method .
In Canada, the laboratory program
undertaken to investigate the practicality and safety of applying cathodic
protection to prestressed concrete structures has been described . In
Australia, corrosion and spalling of reinforced concrete columns particularly
in tidal seawater zones is a major concern. A greater emphasis is being
given to the maintenance and preservation of existing structures rather than
the expensive alternative of replacement. A newly developed technique of
applying cathodic protection to steel reinforced concrete comprise of
conductive tape and mixed metal oxide coated titanium mesh anode (CAT)
system. Protection is provided with an even current distribution over the
surface via the conductive tape. A major advantage of the CAT system is
that it does not require the use of specialized equipment and that
installation time is minimal. Two trials performed on road bridges in Victoria
and Queensland, Australia are described in detail. The CAT systems were
installed to protect the tidal zones and above. Polarization effects and the
possibility of current "dumping" in submerged zones were investigated .
The impressed current cathodic protection on reinforced concrete shown
that the cathodic area is initially made very alkaline immediately after
switch-on and the anodic area becomes acidic in nature. This acidic area
spreads out from the anodic electrode towards the cathodic area. It is found
that this alkalinity is produced at the cathodically impressed rebar as the
impressed current (a) uses up the dissolved oxygen; (b) requires the
hydroxyl ions to carry the ionic current; (c) produces hydrogen. In
conclusion, for cathodic protection to work effectively there must be a way
for oxygen to diffuse to the cathodic area, so that it takes part in the
cathodic reaction. The anodic area becomes acidic and the alkaline OH ions are moved away from the rebar as a requirement for continuous current
flow . Pietro Pedeferri described the developments in cathodic
protection for aerial concrete structures and the operating conditions as far
as potential and current are concerned and the problems regarding throwing
power, the possibility to reach a condition of protection without running the
risk of hydrogen embrittlement in the case of prestressed structures are
discussed. Examples of cathodic protection and cathodic prevention design,
execution, operation and monitoring are given .
cathodic protection of steel in concrete is reported by several authors . The utility of conducting polymer composites and conductive coatings
for cathodic protection is reported [57-60].
Cathodic protection of concrete structures by thermally sprayed zinc
Caltrans came to the fore again by developing thermal sprayed zinc applied
to bridge substructures. This system was somewhat more durable than
conductive coatings, without the requirement for a perfectly dry surface.
The use of arc sprayed zinc on the 10,000 m 2 substructure of the Yaquina
Bay bridge in Oregon in 1992 is one of the largest single substructure CP
projects undertaken in the USA. The Strategic Highway Research Program
(SHRP) undertook an extensive survey of the CP systems on North American
bridges in 1988-89. They found 840,000 m2 of concrete surface under
cathodic protection on the US and Canadian interstate highway system.
The following main conclusions can be drawn:
at the moment experiences from about 20 bridges exist; the oldest
system is about 15 years in service. In all reports the thermally sprayed
zinc layers are described to operate satisfactorily.
for CP systems with zinc layers the same protection criteria are valid
(minimum potential under wet conditions or minimum value for
depolarisation after switching off the current during a certain period of
time for dry conditions)
the anodes have shown physical integrity during 4.5 years of testing (no
delamination) in the aggressive conditions of Florida
laboratory investigations have shown that after 2 years of testing current
densities were in the range of 11 mA/m2. In areas with severe corrosion
the 100 mV criterion for depolarisation was achieved within 4 hours
pre-tests with an organic coating onto the zinc layer have shown that the
polarisation behaviour was not significantly affected
With respect to the principle of water reduction of the concrete in order to
reduce the corrosion rate of the reinforcement, current research results
have shown that the corrosion rate can be decreased to a negligible level in
the case that the chloride contamination is not too high. Initial problems
with the adhesion of zinc on concrete have been solved by modifications of
process engineering parameters of the spraying (distance, angle) and a
pretratement of the surface (blasting, heating). Tests and already existing
practical applications have shown that sprayed zinc layers adhere very well
at dry blasted surfaces. Further investigations have shown that an increased
surface temperature (60 â 150 Â°C) during spraying significantly increases the
adhesion. Investigations on the thermal influence of the melt droplets which
hit the concrete surface do not exist. Metallographic examinations of the
interface zinc/concrete do not indicate temperature related changes of the
microstructure in the concrete or the cement phase. In this project such
processes or changes (induced by zinc dissolution) at the interface
zinc/concrete should be also investigated. Use of sprayed zinc anode for
cathodic protection in concrete structures has ben attempted only recently.
As such, the performance data is available only for a limited period. Even
though the sprayed zinc has been experimented both as sacrificial and
impressed current systems, the latter appears to be more effective. Arc
spray process has been widely used in experimental studies. It has been
found that the coating thickness is to be limited to 20 mils (0.5 mm) to
avoid disbondment. At the time of spraying the concrete surface should be
kept dry and warm and grit blasted at low air pressure, so as not to expose
to coarse aggregates. Under impressed current system, 100 mV polarisation
decay has been adopted to evaluate the effectiveness of the system and it
has been found that all the portions have not satisfactorily fullfilled this
criterion. In one experiment 80 % area had passed this criterion, while in
another experiement only 18 % area had passed. Laboratory experiments
have shown that the organic coating system over zinc spray can be
beneficial from the point of view of a reduction in current requirements.
This review reveals that lot more developmental work needs to be carried
out to make cathodic protection of concrete structures economically viable.
Existing problem in chloride contaminated concrete
For the rehabilitation of chloride-contaminated concrete structures with
high chloride contents in principle the following strategies are possible:
ď conventional mechanical removal of all chlordie-contaminated
concrete and replacing by new repair mortar or concrete. If not all
chloride-contaminated concrete is removed, this kind of patch repair
has a high risk of forming new incipient anodes in vicinity to the new
repair and hence the rehabilitation is only temporary. Furthermore, if
the chloride content is high also in deeper areas the removal of that
concrete can cause serious problems.
ď due to disadvantages of the patch repair, cathodic protection systems
for atmospherically exposed reinforced concrete structures have been
developed and they show satisfactory results in practical application.
ď the measures for drying out of the concrete by means of water-tight
surface protection coatings can suppress the corrosion risks. But
these processes take considerable time.
With a temporary cathodic protection system sufficient protection during
such drying out processes could be possibly achieved. Experiences from
different practical applications have shown that thermally sprayed zinc
coatings on concrete surfaces are effective galvanic anodes to ensure
cathodic protection of depassivated reinforcing steel over a limited period
of time. Such anode systems are cheap, easy to apply and do not need
maintenance. The idea of the combination with a surface protection overlay
is that the reinforcing steel can be protected over the remaining service life
of the structures.
Frequenly asked questions on thermal spray zinc coatings on concrete
ď is the bond between sprayed zinc layer and concrete as well as
between zinc and surface protection overlay sufficient and durable?
ď is the galvanic current between zinc as sacrificial anode and the
reinforcing steel sufficient to protect the steel?
ď are there any limits with respect to maximum chloride levels
ď long term performance of the anode
ď suitable backfill material between anode and concrete
ď protection criteria to be established
ď studies on the anode and cathode terminals
ď suitable additional protective surface coating to zinc
Future work on the above unsolved questions will lead a fool-proof
technology and a proven system for protecting reinforcements in bridges
On the basis literatures studied the following broad conclusions have
been made on cathodic protection with respect surface coatings on
1. Ti based anodes are effective for cathodic protection but not very
cost effective anodes.
2. Magnesium and magnesium alloy anodes are not found suitable for
spraying on the surfaces of concrete.
4. Conducting polymer anodes are still needs more attention.
5. Even though small drawbacks encountered in zinc anodes, thermal
spraying of zinc on the concrete bridges and structures are feasible
and found effective.
One of the authors (S.M) thanks CECRI & CSIR, India, for the grant of
permission to pursue a post doctoral fellowship at KERI. Thanks are also due
to KOFST, Korea, for the financial assistance under the Brain Pool Program.
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