Cathodic Protection of Steel in Concrete
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The use of cathodic protection has become the preferred method for mitigating corrosion of steel reinforcement in concrete. A wide variety of both impressed current and sacrificial systems have been effectively used to control the effects of corrosion on steel reinforced concrete structures located in marine environments. In the case of steel, iron ore is extracted from the earth, separated, refined, melted and alloyed to produce the end product of steel. This process utilizes energy in the form of heat and mechanical processing to convert ore into steel.
Cathodic Protection of Reinforcing Steel in Concrete Structures - ScienceDirect
That energy remains stored in the manufactured material until such time as the energy is released by an electrochemical reaction between the metal and its environment. The natural tendency of a metal to react with the environment, or corrode, is an electrochemical process, which consists of four components: an anode, where oxidation occurs; a cathode, where reduction occurs; a metallic path, where current flows; and an electrolyte, where ion transfer occur.
If any one of the four elements of the electrochemical cell is eliminated, corrosion cannot occur. Steel reinforced concrete is an excellent, low cost building material.
The reinforcing steel is very compatible with concrete because of their similar coefficients of thermal expansion and because concrete generally provides the steel with corrosion protection due to the high alkaline Portland cement by creating a passive film layer on the steel reinforcement surface. This passive film naturally protects the steel reinforcement from corrosion effects as long as the concrete remains in a highly alkaline state and no external factors impart a change in this condition.