Skip to main content

A short-term test method to determine the chloride threshold of steel–cementitious systems with corrosion inhibiting admixtures


Now-a-days, multiple types of corrosion inhibiting admixtures (CIAs) are being used to enhance the chloride threshold (Clth) of steel–cementitious systems. However, due to the application of external potential to drive chlorides, some existing short-term test methods are not suitable to assess the Clth of S–C systems with CIAs containing anions. This paper presents the development of a Modified Accelerated Chloride Threshold (mACT) test to determine the Clth for S–C systems with CIAs. The test specimens consisted of a mortar cylinder with an embedded steel piece and electrodes forming a 3-electrode corrosion cell. The specimens were exposed to chloride solution and the linear polarization resistance tests were conducted every 3.5 days. The corrosion initiation was detected using statistical analysis of the repeated R p measurements. After corrosion initiation, the chloride content in mortar adjacent to the embedded steel piece was determined and defined as Clth. The time required to complete mACT test for an S–C system with CIAs is about 120 days. The Clth of eight specimens each with S–C system containing (i) without inhibitor, (ii) anodic inhibitor [calcium nitrite] and (iii) bipolar inhibitor [both calcium nitrite and amino alcohol] were determined. Both anodic and bipolar CIAs showed enhanced corrosion resistance. Also, the bipolar inhibitor performed better than anodic inhibitor. It was concluded that the use of CIAs could significantly delay the initiation of chloride-induced corrosion. The mACT test can be used to determine the Clth and estimate the service life during the planning and design stages of a project and help select durable materials.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10



% by weight of cement

σ5 :

Standard deviation of R p data set considered for analysis

σst :

Standard deviation of stable R p data set


Accelerated threshold test


Anodic inhibitor


Bipolar inhibitor


Corrosion inhibiting admixtures

Clth :

Chloride threshold value (%bwoc)

C s :

Surface chloride concentration

D cl :

Chloride diffusion coefficient of concrete (m2/s)

E :

Applied potential (Volt)

E corr :

Corrosion potential (millivolt)


Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy

I :

Corrosion current (milliampere)


Ion specific electrode

k :

Multiplication coefficient to define stable data


Linear polarization resistance


Modified accelerated chloride threshold

M(t i):

Median of time required for t i (year)


Open circuit potential


Ordinary portland cement


Probability density function


Quenched and self-tempered

R cm :

Resistance of cementitious system (Ω cm2)


Rapid chloride permeability test


Rapid migration test

R p :

Polarization resistance at steel–cementitious interface (Ω cm2)

R total :

Bulk resistance of steel–cementitious system (Ω cm2)


Saturated calomel electrode


Simulated pore solution

t :

Duration of exposure (year)

t i :

Time required for corrosion initiation (year)

x :

Depth considered to determine anion concentration (mm)


  1. Trejo D, Reinschmidt K (2003) High-performance construction materials for life-cycle optimization. Construction research congress, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 19–21

  2. Yu H, Hartt WH (2011) Correction of chloride threshold concentration and time-to-corrosion due to reinforcement presence. Mater Corros 62(5):423–430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cheewaket T, Jaturapitakkul C, Chalee W (2012) Initial corrosion presented by chloride threshold penetration of concrete up to 10 year-results under marine site. Constr Build Mater 37:693–698

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Pillai RG, Annapareddy A (2013) Service life models for chloride-laden concrete structures: a review and nomographs. Int. J 3Rs 4 (2): 563–580

  5. Gaidis JM (2004) Chemistry of corrosion inhibitors”. Cement Concr Compos 26(3):181–189

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ann KY, Song HW (2007) Chloride threshold level for corrosion of steel in concrete. Corros Sci 49:4113–4133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Xu J, Jiang L, Wang W, Jang Y (2011) Influence of CaCl2 and NaCl from different sources on chloride threshold value for the corrosion of steel reinforcement in concrete. Constr Build Mater 25(2):663–669

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Taylor PC, Mohammad AN, David AW (1999) Threshold chloride content for corrosion of steel in concrete: a literature review. Portland cement Association, R&D, Serial No. 2169

  9. Angst U, Elsener B, Larsen CK, Vennesland O (2009) Critical chloride content in reinforced concrete—a review. Cem Concr Res 39(12):1122–1138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hansson CM, Mammoliti L, Hope BB (1998) Corrosion inhibitors in concrete—part I: the principles. Cem Concr Res 28(12):1775–1781

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ormellese M, Berra M, Nolzoni F, Pastore T (2006) Corrosion inhibitors for chlorides induced corrosion in reinforced concrete structures. Cem Concr Res 36:536–547

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Morris W, Vazquez M (2002) Migrating corrosion inhibitor evaluated in concrete containing various contents of admixed chlorides. Cem Concr Res 32:259–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. González JA, Ramírez E, Bautista A (1998) Protection of steel embedded in chloride-containing concrete by means of inhibitors. Cem Concr Res 28(4):577–589

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Mammoliti L, Hansson CM, Hope BB (1999) Corrosion inhibitors in concrete part II: effect on chloride threshold values for corrosion of steel in synthetic pore solutions. Cem Concr Res 29:1583–1589

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ann KY, Jung HS, Kim HS, Kim SS, Moon HY (2006) Effect of calcium nitrite-based corrosion inhibitor in preventing corrosion of embedded steel in concrete. Cem Concr Res 36:530–535

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Berke NS, Hicks MC (2004) Predicting long-term durability of steel-reinforced concrete with calcium nitrite corrosion inhibitor. Cem Concr Compos 26(3):191–198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Page CL, Treadaway KWJ, Bamforth PB (1990) The use of calcium nitrite as a corrosion inhibiting admixture to steel reinforcement in concrete. Elsevier Applied Science, London, New York, pp 571–585

    Google Scholar 

  18. Rincon TO, Perez O, Paredes E, Caldera Y, Urdaneta C, Sandoval I (2002) Long-term performance of ZnO as a rebar corrosion inhibitor. Cem Concr Compos 24(1):79–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Montes P, Bremner TW, Lister D (2004) Influence of calcium nitrite inhibitor and crack width on corrosion of steel in high performance concrete subjected to a simulated marine environment. Cem Concr Compos 26:243–253

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Nmai CK (2004) Multi-functional organic corrosion inhibitor. Cem Concr Compos 26(3):199–207

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. COIN Project report 22 (2010) Corrosion inhibitors—state of the art. SINTEF Building and Infrastructure

  22. Rakanta E, Zafeiropoulou T, Batis G (2013) Corrosion protection of steel with DMEA-based organic inhibitor. Constr Build Mater 44:507–513

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Nmai CK, Farrington SA, Bobrowske GS (1992) Organic-based corrosion-inhibiting admixture for reinforced concrete. Concr Int 14(4):45–51

    Google Scholar 

  24. Pour-Ghaz M, Isgor OB, Ghods P (2009) Quantitative interpretation of half-cell potential measurements in concrete structures. J Mater Civ Eng 21(9):467–475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Stratfull RF (1957) The corrosion of steel in a reinforced concrete bridge. Corrosion 13:173

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. ASTM C876–2015, Standard test method for corrosion potentials of uncoated reinforcing steel in concrete. American standards for testing of materials, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States

  27. Cigna R, Proverbio E, Rocchini G (1993) A study of reinforcement behavior in concrete structures using electrochemical techniques. Corros Sci 35(5–8):1579

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. ASTM G59-14. Standard test method for conducting potentiodynamic polarization resistance measurements. American standards for testing of Materials, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States

  29. Baweja D, Roper H, Sirivivatnanon V (2003) Improved electrochemical determinations of chloride-induced steel corrosion in concrete. ACI Mater J Tech Pap 100:547–584

    Google Scholar 

  30. Morris W, Vico A, Vazquez M, de Sanchez S (2002) Corrosion of reinforcing steel evaluated by means of concrete resistivity measurements. Corros Sci 44(1):81–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Xu J, Jiang L, Wang J (2009) Influence of detection methods on chloride threshold value for the corrosion of steel reinforcement. Constr Build Mater 23(5):1902–1908

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Bouteiller V, Cremona C, Baroghel-Bouny V, Maloula A (2012) Corrosion initiation of reinforced concretes based on Portland or GGBS cements: chloride contents and electrochemical characterizations versus time. Cem Concr Res 42(11):1456–1467

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Angst UM, Elsener B, Larsen CK, Vennesland Ø (2011) Chloride induced reinforcement corrosion: electrochemical monitoring of initiation stage and chloride threshold values. Corros Sci 53(4):1451–1464

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Valipour M, Shekarchi M, Ghods P (2014) Comparative studies of experimental and numerical techniques in measurement of corrosion rate and time-to-corrosion-initiation of rebar in concrete in marine environments. Cement Concr Compos 48:98–107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. JIS A6205 (2013) Corrosion inhibitor for reinforcing steel in concrete. Japan Industrial standard, 4-1-24, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-8440, Japan

  36. Poursaee A, Hansson CM (2007) Reinforcing steel passivation in mortar and pore solution. Cem Concr Res 37(7):1127–1133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. ASTM G109–15 (2015) Standard test method for determining effects of chemical admixtures on corrosion of embedded steel reinforcement in concrete exposed to chloride environments. American standards for testing of Materials, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States

  38. Trejo D, Miller D (2002) System and method for determining the chloride corrosion threshold level for uncoated steel reinforcement embedded in cementitious material. US Patent Application, Serial No. 60/288,210

  39. Trejo D, Pillai RG (2003) Accelerated chloride threshold testing: part I ASTM A615 and A706 reinforcement. ACI Mater J 100:519–527

    Google Scholar 

  40. ASTM C1202 (2010) Standard test method for electrical indication of concrete’s ability to resist chloride ion penetration, American standards for testing of materials, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428–2959, United States

  41. IS:12269-2008, Specification for 53 grade ordinary Portland cement, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), New Delhi, India

  42. IS:4031-2008 (Part 1–15), Methods of physical tests for hydraulic cement, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), New Delhi, India

  43. IS:383-1970 (2007) Specification for coarse and fine aggregates from natural sources for concrete. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), New Delhi, India

  44. SHRP-330 (1993) Standard test method for chloride content in concrete using the specific ion probe. In Condition evaluation of concrete bridges relative to reinforcement corrosion-volume 8: procedure manual, SHRP-S/FR-92-110, Strategic Highway Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 85–105

  45. Karuppanasamy J (2017) Study of chloride threshold determination for systems with corrosion inhibiting admixtures and corrosion rates of various steels in cement mortar. Ph.D. thesis, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

  46. Feliu V, González JA, Andrade C, Feliu S (1998) Equivalent circuit for modeling the steel-concrete interface. I. Experimental evidence and theoretical predictions. Corros Sci 40(6):975–993

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Pettersson K (1996) Factors influencing chloride induced corrosion of reinforcement in concrete. Durab Build Mater Compon 1:334–341

    Google Scholar 

  48. Life-365™ v2.2.1, Life-365 Consortium III, Silica Fume Association, Lovettsville,, 2014

  49. Polder RB (1995) Chloride diffusion and resistivity testing of five concrete mixes for marine environment, RILEM International conference, Chloride Penetration into Concrete, Paris

  50. Luping T, Nilsson LO (1992) Chloride diffusivity in high strength concrete at different ages. Nord Concr Res 11(1):162–171

    Google Scholar 

  51. Angst U, Rønnquist A, Elsener B, Larsen CK, Vennesland Ø (2011) Probabilistic considerations on the effect of specimen size on the critical chloride content in reinforced concrete. Corros Sci 53(1):177–187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Frederiksen JM (ed) (1996) HETEK. In Chloride penetration into concrete, state of the art. Transport processes, corrosion initiation, tests methods and prediction models, Copenhagen: The Road Directorate. Report No. 53

  53. Montemor M, Simões AM, Ferreira MG (2003) Chloride-induced corrosion on reinforcing steel: from the fundamentals to the monitoring techniques. Cem Concr Compos 25(4):491–502

  54. Pradhan B, Bhattacharjee B (2009) Half-cell potential as an indicator of chloride-induced rebar corrosion initiation in RC. J Mater Civil Eng 21(10):543–552

  55. Yu H, Shi X, Hart WH, Lu B (2010) Laboratory investigation of reinforcement corrosion initiation and chloride threshold content for self-compacting concrete. Cem Concr Res 40(10):1507–1516

  56. Boubitsas D, Tang L (2015) The influence of reinforcement steel surface condition on initiation of chloride induced corrosion. Mater Struct 48(8):2641–2658

Download references


The authors acknowledge the financial assistance from the New Faculty Seed Grand received from Indian Institute of Technology Madras and the Fast–Track grant (Sanction No. SR/FTP/ETA–0119/2011) from Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India. The authors acknowledge Prof. Ravindra Gettu, Prof. Manu Santhanam, Prof. Surendra. P. Shah, staff and fellow students in the Building Technology and Construction Management Division, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras for their priceless support and timely help.


This study was funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India under the Fast-Track scheme (Sanction No. SR/FTP/ETA–0119/2011).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Radhakrishna G. Pillai.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Radhakrishna G. Pillai has received the research grants from Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Karuppanasamy, J., Pillai, R.G. A short-term test method to determine the chloride threshold of steel–cementitious systems with corrosion inhibiting admixtures. Mater Struct 50, 205 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Chloride threshold
  • QST steel
  • Corrosion inhibitor
  • Calcium nitrite
  • Bipolar inhibitor