A team from the Institute for the Environment, Physical Sciences and Applied Mathematics at Keele University has developed a technique to identify corroded steel within concrete by non-destructive means.
Reinforced concrete can suffer dangerous and potentially catastrophic deterioration when the reinforcing steel becomes corroded, making regular assessment critical. Commercial techniques currently available involve invasive procedures including damaging the concrete or provide indirect evidence of corrosion.
The new hybrid technology developed by the Keele team has the potential to replace these invasive and less conclusive methods. The concrete survey and repair industries are already showing considerable interest.
The amount of civil infrastructure in Europe using reinforced concrete, e.g. motorways, car parks and large buildings, creates a potential market of approximately £100 million. An even larger market is available if heritage buildings are included as often only non-destructive testing methods are permitted.
The Keele team, led by Professor Peter Haycock, is working in collaboration with Dr Steve Hoon from Manchester Metropolitan University. The programme also involves Concrete Repairs Ltd, engineering consultancy Faber Maunsell Ltd, Oxfordshire County Council, Network Rail, Danish manufacturer Cathodic Protection International ApS and the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water.
The project has already attracted significant commercial interest and a new company, SciSite Limited, has been formed. SciSite has been spun out from the university, to exploit this innovative technology and provide a much needed solution for the industry. This has attracted funding from a range of West Midlands sources (the Enterprise Fellowship Scheme, Spinner and Different by Design) and is currently undertaking its first commercial work around the UK.
The University based group includes of Drs Peter Grannell, Matthew Hocking,Nigel Cassidy and Anthony Wright, together with research student Laurence North. Drs Haycock and Hocking are the Directors of SciSite Limited and the team have a wealth of knowledge in the fields of material science and environmental research.