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Design of watertight structures can we rely on the self healing of cracks in concrete

Event organised by The British Tunnelling Society

15 June 2023

This event has now ended

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Following e.g. EN 1992-3 one may interpret that for water retaining structures, leaking full-depth cracks is allowed. In good faith, designers believe that depending on the hydraulic gradient full depth cracks between 0.05 and 0.20 mm are acceptable. However, this is only the case if the cracks heal themselves effectively within a relatively short time.

Unfortunately, the self-healing of cracks does not always occur, and the reinforced concrete structures are at risk of serious reinforcement corrosion which could endanger the structural integrity without mitigation measures (e.g. injection).

The presentation will give some insight in the design of watertight structures, the self-healing effect of cracks and the presenter's own experience from several projects where relying on the self-healing of cracks as a design assumption had serious consequences for the structures, both with regard to durability and structural integrity.



WEBAC as an independent, family-owned, company feels at home in the construction chemicals industry for more than 40 years.


Dr. Carola Edvardsen

Dr. Carola Edvardsen


technical director

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Dr. Carola Edvardsen

Dr.-Ing. Carola Edvardsen possesses a wealth of experience and is responsible for COWI's activities within concrete durability technology and service life design for new structures in general, which include bridge, tunnel, and marine structures in particular.

She has concentrated on combining durability technology of concrete structures with the design of reliable new structures worldwide. In addition, she has significant experience in repair works; in particular water retaining structures. Carola has gained substantial experience in the assessment of cracks in concrete, in particular early age cracking, the reason for the cracks and their influence on durability and service life.