Whether you’re in the concrete industry or a citizen surrounded by concrete structures in everyday life, it is important to know that your environment is safe. Concrete is very durable and is the main construction material used for building bridges, high-rise building, etc., however it can deteriorate over time, become corroded and in aggressive conditions result in crumbled structures and collapse. In a report published by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013, the overall rating that was given to America’s infrastructures is currently a D+ and the estimated amount of funding needed by 2020 to repair damages is $3.6 trillion. It’s worrisome to realize how many people come across insufficient structures every day.
A recent example the disastrous consequences that can arise from lack of sufficient testing and care for concrete structures is last year’s Algo Centre Mall roof collapse in Elliott Lake, Ontario, which killed two women and injured over twenty others. The incident occurred when a car parked on the rooftop parking lot caused the roof to cave in on a section of the mall. Crumbling concrete was the culprit in this case, and a lack of proper testing can be to blame for this. The trouble often arises because inspectors don’t suspect any corrosion until it is too late due to the fact that some structures show little signs of decay until they begin to crack and fall apart.
In the past few years, there have been novel developments in technologies that can detect concrete damages and steel reinforcement corrosion, calculate corrosion rates and concrete electrical resistivity and as some of the key parameters related to the durability of concrete structures. A Canadian company called Giatec Scientific has successfully produced devices that can measure all of these elements without being destructive to the structure. “We’re offering a new proprietary technology in the form of a hand-held device that can non-destructively measure the corrosion rate of rebar in concrete structures ranging from overpasses to parking garages to sewage pipes,” said Aali Alizadeh, CEO of Giatec.
Giatec’s technologies have been utilized to determine the cause of the fatal mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ontario, however their technologies can be used on new and existing structures for prevention purposes as well. “Our goal is to see iCOR technology built right into critical infrastructure as a sensor, so that it can monitor the condition of concrete structures on an ongoing basis,” says Alizadeh. It is important for construction workers and construction business owners to know that the structures they are building are being done in a way that assures that they are durable and reliable in order to cut future repair costs. With the widespread use these products in the construction industry, we can be assured that the structures that we come across every day are secure, durable, and that there are more efforts that prevent fatal disasters from reoccurring.
Written by: Kelsey Hunt
Kelsey Hunt is a student at the University of Ottawa and is studying her Bachelor’s degree with a major in Communications and a minor in Psychology. Kelsey is currently working at Giatec Scientific in the marketing and sales department. Her email is Kelsey(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)giatec.ca.