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The majority of the highway bridge infrastructure within the UK was built in 1960s and 1970s using reinforced concrete construction.
In the UK, the road surfaces are treated with de-icing salt in winter to provide and maintain ice free driving surfaces for motorists. As a result the majority of the surface runoff water contains varying degrees of chloride contamination. Leaking joints or direct spray or splash, expose highway structures to chloride contaminated water which leads to structural deterioration as a result of reinforcement corrosion and subsequent concrete spalling.
As a result structures are not meeting the anticipated design lives and are requiring unscheduled maintenance to retain operational integrity.
Cathodic Protection (CP) is listed within BS EN 1504 part 9 as an effective repair strategy for chloride contaminated concrete. CP has been used effectively to stop and control reinforcement corrosion in chloride contaminated structures, without the need for contaminated concrete removal and replacement.
CP has been demonstrated to work effectively under continuous chloride contamination regardless of the chloride level in the concrete. CP of highway infrastructure is used extensively as a sustainable life extension tool, offering whole life cost and maintenance free benefits for owners and operators.
Understanding cathodic protection can help Engineers identify, develop and maintain our infrastructure in a sustainable and low carbon manner.