The Porcelain Enamel Institute, Inc. (PEI) is pleased to announce the initiation of collaborative development efforts to prove the structural and mechanical improvements in steel reinforced concrete structures by using reactive porcelain enamel coatings, containing Lithium, on the reinforcing steel.
Partners in this effort include SQM North America (Atlanta, GA), who will provide financial support as part of its strategy of stimulating new uses for Lithium, the University of Louisville (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), the Porcelain Enamel Institute, Inc. and several of its member companies.
Throughout the US many states are reporting on the poor condition of their reinforced concrete infrastructure; thousands of bridges need repair, highways are crumbling, parking decks are cracked and corroding; the list goes on. As all industries work toward greener products it is easy to see how these reactive porcelain enamel coatings will help further enhance the sustainability and durability of reinforced concrete construction.
This new technology, licensed by PEI from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, represents an entirely new market opportunity for the porcelain enameling industry. There are two key aspects to this technology which will improve steel reinforced concrete structures; firstly, the porcelain enamel will protect the steel from corrosion within the concrete structure thus eliminating a number of the resultant problems and secondly, the reactive nature of the porcelain enamel will greatly enhance the bond of the reinforcing steel to the concrete thus producing better/stronger construction elements, infrastructure and buildings.
Not only does this represent an entirely new market for porcelain enamels but it will be a market of significant size with real growth opportunities in the years ahead when one considers the aging and detioriation of reinforced concrete structures, buildings and infrastructure.
Initial work will involve the production of prototypes of porcelain enamel coated reinforcing steel for testing at the University of Louisville's Civil Engineering laboratories. The data from this testing will prove the structural benefits of the porcelain enamel coating and allow structural engineering calculation formulas to be developed for coated reinforcing steel elements. The corrosion protection provided by the reactive coating has already been proved in compliance with ASTM tests and the technology has been used in construction projects by the U. S. Army.
PEI is planning its next steps to market and commercialize this technology in many segments of the US construction industry. Several types of steel reinforcement products are being considered and tested including; steel rebar, steel fiber, welded wire mesh, corrugated steel decking, structural anchors, wall ties, etc.
Early cost estimates indicate that porcelain enamel coatings will be no more expensive than current corrosion protection coatings (far cheaper than some proposed technical solutions). But reactive porcelain enamel coatings will do more than just corrosion protection; they will make the concrete structure stronger.
Considering the numerous examples of deteriorating US infrastructure and with our government focusing some stimulus spending in this area, today is a great time for this leap in technology/quality/durability for steel reinforced concrete construction. The structural improvement and corrosion protection provided by porcelain enamel coated reinforcing steel will greatly extend the service life of concrete structures.