Monitoring electrical resistance of concretes containing alternative cementitious materials to assess their resistance to chloride penetration
Chloride ion penetration into concrete and the resulting deterioration (cracking and spalling due to the corrosion of reinforcement) is a major concern of engineers and owners of bridges and marine structures. Several publications have reported the excellent performance of concrete containing alternative cementitious materials (ACMs), such as pulverised fuel ash (PFA), ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), microsilica (MS) and metakaolin (MK) in marine environment and highway structures. The resistance offered by these concretes has been related to the low mobility of chloride ions due to either the reduction in the number of interconnected pores as a result of the pozzolanic reaction of the ACMs or the chemical binding with the cement hydrates. However, the secondary reaction products are formed slowly in Portland cement concrete containing ACMs and as a result it is likely that the resistance offered to the penetration of chloride ions also increases slowly with time. In order to monitor the continuous behaviour of concretes containing these ACMs in a chloride exposure regime, an investigation was carried out, the results of which are reported in this paper. Ten different concrete mixes were subjected to a cyclic ponding regime with 0.55 M sodium chloride solution and the changes in concrete were monitored by measuring the changes in resistance between pairs of stainless steel electrodes embedded in the concrete at different depths from the exposed surface. The test was continued for nearly one year. The results indicated that, although the resistance of concrete decreased initially due to the penetration of chlorides, in the longer term the resistance of concretes containing ACMs outperformed the control concrete made with ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Drilled dust samples extracted after different durations of ponding were tested for the chloride content, which confirmed that the increase in resistance of the ACMs was due to the combined effects of the reduction in the penetration of chlorides and the continuous hydration activity of the ACMs.