Understanding Chloride Diffusion Coefficient in Cementitious Materials

Zhiyuan Xu*, Guang Ye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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One of the key problems that affect the durability of reinforced concrete structures is the corrosion of rebar induced by chloride. Despite the complicated transport mechanism of chloride ions in cementitious materials, diffusion is still the key mechanism of chloride ingress. The determination of the chloride diffusion coefficient will help to predict the chloride profile inside the cementitious materials and estimate the service life with regard to chloride-induced corrosion. However, this paper shows that the chloride diffusion coefficient in the literature is sometimes misunderstood. Such a misunderstanding results in the overestimation of the chloride resistance of cementitious materials. To clarify the chloride diffusion coefficient, this paper first presents the steady- and non-steady-state diffusion equations in cementitious materials. The factors that influence the diffusive flux are identified. The effective and apparent diffusion coefficients are then clearly explained and properly defined. We also point out the obscure definitions of the effective diffusion coefficient in the literature. The varied definitions of the effective diffusion coefficient are the result of the consideration of different factors affecting the diffusion process. Subsequently, this paper discusses two natural diffusion test methods that are frequently employed in cementitious materials to measure the chloride diffusion coefficient. The influencing factors considered by the measured diffusion coefficients are analyzed in detail. Then, the diffusion coefficients determined in some of the studies are reviewed. It is shown that three typical errors could occur when numerically determining the diffusion coefficients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3464
Number of pages13
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • cementitious materials
  • diffusion coefficient
  • chloride transport
  • natural diffusion test


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