Chloride Ingress of Carbonated Blast Furnace Slag Cement Mortars

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In the Netherlands civil engineering structures, such as overpasses, bridges and tunnels are generally built using blast furnace slag cement (BFSC, CEM III/B) concrete, because of its high resistance against chloride penetration. Although the Dutch experience regarding durability performance of BFSC concrete has been remarkably good, its resistance to carbonation is known to be sensitive, especially when the used slag percentage is high. In a field investigation on a highway overpass damage was found in sheltered elements such as abutments and intermediate supports, which was attributed to chloride induced corrosion enhanced by carbonation that occurred prior to the chloride exposure.

Many structures built using BFSC could be prone to this mechanism, i.e. carbonation enhanced chloride induced corrosion, negatively affecting their durability. Focus of the research was given on the influence of carbonation on the chloride penetration resistance of BFSC mortars with varying slag content. In light of the characteristics from the overpass case, it was assumed that first there is a period of carbonation during sheltered exposure, and subsequently joint leakage causes exposure to chlorides. In order to identify the influence of slag content on carbonation, chloride penetration resistance and their coupled effect, mortars with twelve cement blends in a range of 0–70% slag were evaluated based on chloride migration coefficient, accelerated carbonation and electrical resistivity.

This study shows that carbonation of BFSC mortars increases the porosity, consequently decreasing the chloride penetration resistance. Binders with 50% or more slag were found to have a significantly lower resistance after carbonation. Consequently, the chloride penetration resistance of a given concrete cover strongly depends on the duration of carbonation and the resulting carbonation depth, hence influencing its lifespan. The service life was estimated using a simplified model for the chloride penetration time of a combined carbonated and uncarbonated layer. It was found that mortar with a slag content between 35 and 50% that was carbonated before chloride exposure show the lowest influence of carbonation on the chloride penetration resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigh Tech Concrete: Where Technology and Engineering Meet
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2017 fib Symposium, held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, June 12–14, 2017
EditorsD. Hordijk, M. Lukovic
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-59471-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Blast furnace slag cement
  • Carbonation
  • Chloride ingress
  • Durability
  • RCM-test


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