Examining the Distribution of Strength across the Thickness of Reinforced Concrete Elements Subject to Sulphate Corrosion Using the Ultrasonic Method
Sulphate corrosion of concrete is a complex chemical and physical process that leads to the destruction of construction elements. Degradation of concrete results from the transportation of sulphate compounds through the pores of exposed elements and their chemical reactions with cementitious material. Sulphate corrosion can develop in all kind of structures exposed to the corrosive environment.
The mechanism of the chemical reactions of sulphate ions with concrete compounds is well known and described. Furthermore, the dependence of the compressive strength of standard cubic samples on the duration of their exposure in the sulphate corrosion environment has been described. However, strength tests on standard samples presented in the scientific literature do not provide an answer to the question regarding the measurement methodology and actual distribution of compressive strength in cross-section of reinforced concrete structures exposed to sulphate ions. Since it is difficult to find any description of this type of test in the literature, the authors undertook to conduct them.
The ultrasonic method using exponential heads with spot surface of contact with the material was chosen for the measurements of concrete strength in close cross-sections parallel to the corroded surface. The test was performed on samples taken from compartments of a reinforced concrete tank after five years of operation in a corrosive environment. Test measurements showed heterogeneity of strength across the entire thickness of the tested elements. It was determined that the strength of the elements in internal cross-sections of the structure was up to 80% higher than the initial strength. A drop in the mechanical properties of concrete was observed only in the close zone near the exposed surface.