Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a glass-based coating for reinforcement bars that helps prevent corrosion and strengthens the bond between steel and concrete.
The material could help engineers build stronger bridges and increase the longevity of other steel-reinforced structures.
Currently, the US market for polymer-coated and galvanised rebar in the construction industry is more than $4bn per year, but research has shown that polymer coatings are not providing adequate corrosion protection for the rebar.
The Missouri coating is an engineered mixture of glass, clays and water.
A slurry is applied to the rebar and heated to more than 760C.
The coating, which adheres to steel, promotes bonding with concrete and works to prevent corrosion from water and salt.
The university has filed for a patent on the technology, which was developed by a team of researchers led by Dr Richard Brow, Curators’ Professor of materials science and engineering, and Dr Genda Chen, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering.
The research was funded by the Leonard Wood Institute.
The university recently licensed the new technology to Pro-Perma Engineered Coatings in St. Louis.
Mike Koenigstein, managing partner of Pro-Perma. says that the company has two projects in the works that use the new coating.
The first will involve the strengthening of marine structures in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Next, Koenigstein plans to strengthen a sea wall near Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii.
Both projects are sponsored by the US Department of Defense.
In addition to protecting structures from water and salt, Brow and Chen say the new coating would help make bridges and buildings stronger in earthquake-prone regions.