Rust-proof reinforcement promises maintenance-free concrete

A team of engineers at Australia’s Deakin University has developed a form of concrete reinforcement that may dramatically reduce the need to maintain structures such as bridges.

The academics, led by Mahbube Subhani and Kazem Ghabraie, lecturers in civil engineering, have developed a rebar that uses carbon and plastic rather than steel, and will shortly test it on a pedestrian bridge near Deakin’s home in the city of Geelong.

Subhani commented: "We have replaced the steel reinforcing bar with more durable carbon and glass-fibre reinforced polymer.

"Structures made with steel reinforced concrete require maintenance about every five years and major maintenance or rehabilitation every 20 years. This bridge should not require any maintenance for the whole of its design life."

The need for maintenance is partly caused by rusting of the concrete’s ferrous reinforcement, which weakens its structure.

He added that the non-ferrous rebar was stronger and five times lighter than reinforced steel, and required only 25% of the energy to produce.

The bridge was designed by the team and will be built by engineering firm Austeng.

Image: Spalling on a bridge in Ontario caused by rebar rusting (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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  1. This reminds me of the fibre-reinforced concrete that was discussed in the mid-1970’s, and does not appear to have taken any hold in today’s buildings.

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