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The Rapid Chloride Permeability Test

Concrete structures face various factors that contribute to their degradation, including wind, precipitation, temperature fluctuations, and hostile environments. Deterioration mechanisms can stem from chemical, physical, or mechanical sources, originating both externally and internally.

Chloride ions are one of the main causes of corrosion in reinforcing steel within concrete. When chloride ions penetrate the concrete and reach the steel reinforcement, they can initiate corrosion, leading to the deterioration of the structure over time.

To enhance the durability of concrete structures, it is essential to identify the causes of deterioration and implement preventive measures. One test commonly employed to assess the resistance of concrete to chloride ions ingress is the Rapid Chloride Permeability Test (RCPT). This test, standardized under ASTM C 1202 or AASHTO T 277, offers a simple and rapid evaluation of concrete's resistance to chloride penetration.

RCPT finds application in durability-based quality control and helps assess improvements in the properties of new concrete. During the test, a constant voltage is applied to a concrete specimen for a specified period.

Measuring and Interpreting RCPT Results

The measurement unit for RCPT is the Coulomb, with current measured in Amperes. Coulomb represents the charge passed through the concrete specimen, where one Ampere passing through the specimen in one second equals one Coulomb. Higher Coulomb values indicate higher permeability, while lower values indicate greater resistance to chloride ion penetration.

RCPT Apparatus and Procedure

The RCPT is conducted using specialized equipment designed for the test. The apparatus typically consists of two reservoirs—one containing a 3.0% salt solution and the other housing a 0.3M sodium hydroxide solution. A concrete specimen with a thickness of 50mm and a diameter of 100mm is used for testing.

The procedure involves casting and saturating the concrete specimen before placing it between the two reservoirs. A DC voltage of 60V is applied to the concrete specimen at both ends for 6 hours. The current passing through the concrete at different time intervals is measured using an LCD connected to the cell.

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