Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Micro and Nanoscale Systems

First Advisor

Henry E. Cardenas


Concrete is a porous material which is susceptible to the migration of highly deleterious species such as chlorides and sulfates. Various external sources, including sea salt spray, direct seawater wetting, deicing salts and chlorides can contaminate reinforced concrete. Chlorides diffuse into the capillary pores of concrete and come into contact with the reinforcement. When chloride concentration at the reinforcement exceeds a threshold level it breaks down the passive oxide layer, leading to chloride induced corrosion. The application of electrokinetics using positively charged nanoparticles for corrosion protection in reinforced concrete structures is an emerging technology. This technique involves the principle of electrophoretic migration of nanoparticles to hinder chloride diffusion in the concrete. The return of chlorides is inhibited by the electrodeposited assembly of the nanoparticles at the reinforcement interface.

This work examined the nanoparticle treatment impact on chloride and sulfate induced corrosion in concrete. Electrokinetic Nanoparticle (EN) treatments were conducted on reinforced cylindrical concrete, rectangular ASTM G109 specimens that simulate a bridge deck and full scale beam specimens. EN treatment to mitigate external sulfate attack in concrete was performed on cylindrical concrete specimens. Corrosion results indicated lower corrosion potentials and rates as compared to the untreated specimens. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed a dense microstructure within the EN treated specimens. Chemical analysis (Raman spectroscopy, X ray-diffraction, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy FTIR) showed the presence of strength enhancing phases such as calcium aluminate hydrate (C-A-H) and increased amounts of calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) within the EN treated specimens. Strength and porosity results showed an increase in strength and a reduction in porosity among the EN treated specimens. EN treatment acted as a protective barrier that formed primarily at the reinforcement surface where it inhibited the ingress of chlorides. When applied to sulfate attack, EN treatment was found to extract sulfate ions. This treatment also reduced porosity and increased concrete strength. The strength increases were limited by the accumulation of spallation damage that was accrued during the sulfate exposure period of the work. This demonstrated that treatment for sulfate attack was best suited to early stages of degradation or as a preventive measure.