March 24th, 2004


Concrete Reinforced with Fiber Reinforced Plastic

Concrete Reinforced with Fibre Reinforced Plastic


Concrete is a very durable material. Fine examples of its first structural use by the Romans are still standing, and concrete is now probably the most widely used building material in the world. During Roman times and for many centuries after, its use was limited to compression structures, because of its poor tensile strength. But in the 19th century, the introduction of iron rods into the material led to reinforced concrete as we know it today, with its incredibly wide range of uses.

Iron and Steel Reinforcing in Concrete

Iron and steel rods cause potential corrosion and durability problems, however. Embedded steel is generally very durable, as it is protected from corrosion by the alkaline environment of the concrete. But in highly aggressive environments, the protection given by the concrete is often insufficient. The protective layer is broken down and corrosion begins, the initial signs being cracking and spalling of the concrete. Expensive remedial work is needed to repair this damage if the structure is to achieve its intended service life. Such repairs form a major part of the workload of the construction industry.

Tackling the Problem of Steel Corrosion in Reinforced Concrete

Tackling the problem of steel reinforcement corrosion has usually meant improving the quality of the concrete itself, but this approach has had only limited success. More recently, the construction industry has considered alternative steels for reinforcement, replacing carbon steel with stainless steel or using bars with an epoxy coating. In extreme cases cathodic protection is installed, although this is usually as part of a repair system and not for new structures.

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