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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
OFFICE OF RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE TURNER-FAIRBANK HIGHWAY RESEARCH CENTER

Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory Overview

Laboratory Purpose

The Corrosion and Coatings 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

  • Coating performance evaluation on contaminated substrates.
  • Comparison and evaluation of coating/corrosion performance of laser paint stripping versus grit blasting for spot repairs on bridges.
  • Evaluation of the prevalence of stress corrosion cracking of stainless steels in low temperature, concrete pore solution environments.
  • Laboratory evaluation of corrosion resistance of various metallic dowel bars.
  • A comparative laboratory study of metallic reinforcing steels.

Laboratory Capabilities

The CCL has the following capabilities:

Standard Corrosion and Coatings Testing

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 uses 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

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. 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 is able to carry out microscopic examination of metals and coating materials.

Large-Scale Experimentation

CCL can conduct corrosion testing on large-scale, 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.

Environmental Chambers

CCL is equipped with two walk-in environmental chambers to evaluate corrosion performance of metals in grout and concrete. The lab also has an environmental chamber that can reach very low temperatures. 

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.
  • Ion chromatography.
  • Inverted optical microscope.
  • Salt fog chambers.
  • UV chambers.
  • Outdoor exposure facility.
  • Coatings application facility.
Last updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2021