Degradation of RC Columns under Combined Exposure to Axial Loading, Stray Currents, and Chloride Ingress

Igor Lapiro, Rami Eid, Konstantin Kovler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal regions, home to a significant portion of the world’s population, confront a formidable challenge: the corrosive impact of chloride-rich environments on vital infrastructure. These areas often host essential transportation systems, such as trains and metros, reliant on pre-existing electrical infrastructure. Unfortunately, complete isolation of this infrastructure is rarely feasible, resulting in the emergence of stray currents and electrical potentials that expedite corrosion processes. When coupled with conducive mediums facilitating chemical electrocell formation, the corrosion of reinforced concrete elements accelerates significantly. To combat this issue, international standards have been established, primarily focusing on augmenting the thickness of reinforcement bar covers and restricting stray voltage between rails and the ground. Nevertheless, these measures only provide partial solutions. When subjected to service loads, these elements develop cracks, especially when exposed to stray currents and chlorides, dramatically increasing corrosion rates. Corrosion products, which expand in volume compared to steel, exert internal forces that widen cracks, hastening the deterioration of structural elements. The study deals with the degradation of reinforced concrete columns under the combined action of loads, chloride-rich environments, and electrical voltage-simulating stray currents. In these conditions, degradation and reduction of load-bearing capacity accelerate compared to unloaded conditions, significantly amplifying the corrosion rate. Astonishingly, even in the absence of mechanical loads, stray currents alone induce tensile stresses in elements due to corrosion product formation, leading to longitudinal cracks parallel to the reinforcement bars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1295
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • chloride transport
  • columns
  • mechanical loading
  • steel reinforced concrete
  • stray current

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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