High-cycle fatigue behaviour of reinforcing steel under the effect of ongoing corrosion

Christoph Gehlen, Kai Osterminski, Tim Weirich

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18 Scopus citations


This paper presents the results of the corrosion fatigue behaviour of profiled reinforcing steel bars. Cyclically loaded rebar was simultaneously exposed to different corrosive environments – moderate to severe corrosive environments simulating XC or XD/XS exposure. Corrosion was configured naturally without any external polarization. Rebar was exposed to the corrosive solutions either directly or, when embedded in concrete, indirectly. In this latter case, corrosive agents penetrated towards the steel surface through an open crack. Low frequency was applied to enable extended corrosion periods. The potential drop method was utilized to detect and quantify the crack initiation and crack growth of the rebar. Using this method it was possible to determine the ratios between the number of cycles to crack initiation and the cycles to failure. Based on this method, the Nini/NF ratios were almost always between 0.8 and 0.9 – values that are similar to ratios determined for rebar tested in air (reference). This indicates that the fatigue life of rebar in carbonated concrete or concrete containing chloride is strongly dependent on crack initiation and less on crack growth. The S-N curves derived from the corrosion fatigue tests deviate significantly from the curve that was measured during the reference fatigue tests (tests in air). The S-N curves of rebar tested under corrosion fatigue load were linear, with a slope that was much steeper than the slope of the reference rebar tested in air.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-337
Number of pages9
JournalStructural Concrete
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • combined attack
  • corrosion
  • high-cycle fatigue
  • incipient crack detection
  • laboratory investigations
  • reinforcement
  • reinforcing steel


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