Cathodic protection of reinforced concrete
: anodic processes in cements and related electrolytes

  • Christopher J. Weale

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The nature and kinetics of electrode reactions and processes occurring for four lightweight anode systems which have been utilised in reinforced concrete cathodic protection systems have been studied. The anodes investigated were flame sprayed zinc, conductive paint and two activated titanium meshes. The electrochemical properties of each material were investigated in rapidly stirred de-oxygenated electrolytes using anodic potentiodynamic polarisation. Conductive coating electrodes were formed on glass microscope slides, whilst mesh strands were immersed directly. Oxygen evolution occurred preferentially for both mesh anodes in saturated Ca (OH)2/CaC12 solutions but was severely inhibited in less alkaline solutions and significant current only passed in chloride solutions. The main reactions for conductive paint was based on oxygen evolution in all electrolytes, although chlorides increased the electrical activity. Self-corrosion of zinc was controlled by electrolyte composition and the experimental set-up, chlorides increasing the electrical activity. Impressed current cathodic protection was applied to 25 externally exposed concrete slabs over a period of 18 months to investigate anode degradation mechanisms at normal and high current densities. Specimen chloride content, curing and reinforcement depth were also variables. Several destructive and non-destructive methods for assessing the performance of anodes were evaluated including a site instrument for quantitative "instant-off- potential measurements. The impact of cathodic protection on the concrete substrate was determined for a number of specimens using appropriate methods. Anodic degradation rates were primarily influenced by current density, followed by cemendtious alkalinity, chloride levels and by current distribution. Degradation of cementitious overlays and conductive paint substrates proceeded by sequential neutralisation of cement phases, with some evidence of paint binder oxidation. Sprayed zinc progressively formed an insulating layer of hydroxide complexes, which underwent pitting_ attack in the presence of sufficient chlorides, whilst substrate degradation was minimal. Adhesion of all anode systems decreased with increasing current density. The influence of anode material on the ionic gradients which can develop during cathodic protection was investigated. A constant current was passed through saturated cement paste prisms containing calcium chloride to central cathodes via anodes applied or embedded at each end. Pore solution was obtained from successive cut paste slices for anion and cation analyses. Various experimental errors reduced the value of the results. Characteristic S-shaped profiles were not observed and chloride ion profiles were ambiguous. Mesh anode specimens were significantly more durable than the conductive coatings in the high humidity environment. Limited results suggested zinc ion migration to the cathode region. Electrical data from each investigation clearly indicated a decreasing order of anode efficiency by specific anode material.
Date of Award1992
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorC.L. Page (Supervisor)


  • Cathodic protection
  • reinforced concrete
  • anodic processes
  • cements
  • electrolytes

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