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Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory (CCL) Overview

Laboratory Purpose

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory (CCL) conducts research to advance the application of, and develop solutions for, corrosion prevention and mitigation for highway infrastructure. The laboratory focuses its research on improving the durability and performance of innovative corrosion-resistant metals and coating systems to prevent corrosion damage and to assist structural preservation.

Laboratory Description

The CCL has the capability to perform tests to evaluate the performance of reinforcing steels and protective coatings. This capacity is a combination of four task-oriented functions: coatings and substrate testing, corrosion testing, ionic and wet chemistry analysis, and microscopic examination.   

Recent Accomplishments and Contributions

  • Corrosion performance of metalized coatings over contaminated steel substrate.
  • Evaluation of the prevalence of stress corrosion cracking of stainless steels in chloride-contaminate concrete pore solution environments.
  • Corrosion performance of alternative strand materials.
  • Performance of coatings used for preventive maintenance.
  • Coating performance evaluation on contaminated substrates.
  • Evaluation of laser ablasion for surface preparation.
  • Laboratory evaluation of corrosion resistance of various metallic dowel bars.
  • A comparative laboratory study of metallic reinforcing steels.

For presentations of the current activities of the Coatings and Corrosion Lab, go to one of the following links:

Laboratory Capabilities

The CCL has the following capabilities:

Standard Corrosion and Coatings Testing

A chromatogrphy in a room with a window in the backgroundThe CCL is equipped with testing devices to conduct corrosion testing (reference electrode and potentiostat) and coatings evaluation (colorometer, gloss meter, film thickness meter, and adhesion tester). The laboratory has used ion chromatography for identifying and determining soluble ions on steel and coating surfaces, and a titration system for measuring chlorides in concrete and soil samples. Following standard operating procedures, these in-house capabilities are fully utilized to carry out routine measurements with efficiency, accuracy, and consistency. 

Specialized Laboratory Testing

Three salt fog chambers located outside on the side of a buildingThe CCL houses test devices specialized for corrosion and coatings research. Salt-fog chambers and ultraviolet (UV) chambers provide a controlled environment for cyclic corrosion testing of coated panels and metal samples. The outdoor coatings panel testing site allows real-time and long-term atmospheric testing of coated panels. A corrosion test cell is used to conduct electrochemical testing in a controlled environment. An inverted optical microscope enables the CCL staff to observe corrosion damage at microscopic levels. Coupled with sample preparation equipment, the CCL can carry out microscopic examination of metals and coating materials.

Large-Scale Experimentation

A CCL in a room with a table in front of it.The CCL is capable of conducting corrosion testing on a large-scale, including post-tension cables and reinforced-concrete specimens. The large-scale specimens are usually used for measuring long-term corrosion behavior of cables and reinforcing bars that are exposed to corrosive conditions, such as chloride and sulfate ions and wet-dry cycles.

Four blue environmental chambersEnvironmental Chambers

The CCL is equipped with two walk-in environmental chambers to evaluate corrosion performance of metals in grout and concrete.

Laboratory Services

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory conducts research to prevent and mitigate corrosion and coatings failures in highway infrastructure. The lab assists State departments of transportation (DOTs) in investigations of corrosion- and coating-related issues encountered in various environmental conditions and provides technical assistance to other research groups within Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.

  • Coatings testing and evaluation.
  • Coating application.
  • Substrate surface characterization.
  • Corrosion and electrochemical testing.
  • Ionic and wet chemistry analysis of highway materials.

Laboratory Equipment

  • Potentiostat for corrosion and electrochemical testing.
  • Inverted optical microscope.
  • Salt fog chambers.
  • UV chambers.
  • Ion chromatography
  • Outdoor exposure facility.
  • Coatings application facility.