Prolonging the service life of concrete structures
Structures are designed to last – usually between 50 and 100 years. Many civil engineering structures that are part of Dutch infrastructure are now over halfway through their service life, and some have even reached the end of that period. For this reason, we assess the structural safety and service life of civil engineering and other structures.
Service life of concrete can be extended
As it’s expensive to replace structures, it makes sense to know whether they can last longer. A more accurate assessment of a structure often reveals that it’s still in perfectly good condition. Replacement is then not yet necessary for technical reasons, which saves unnecessary costs.
For 20 years, we’ve been specialists in assessing the structural safety and service life of concrete and other civil engineering structures. We use methods such as demonstrating reserves in the load-bearing capacity and using measurements or test loads to reduce uncertainties.
We also check – or double check – whether requirements that the structure had to meet when it was built still apply. And whether those requirements are still valid. For example, we contributed to drawing up the structural standards for existing structures (NEN 8700 series and Dutch Guidelines for the Assessment of Structures). The methods we use help estimate more accurately the service life of concrete structures and increase their reliability. This prevents unnecessary replacement of structures and therefore saves the associated costs.
Prevention and repair
Materials begin to weaken over time. The severity of this weakening determines structural safety over the long term. If you delay degradation, for example by carrying out repairs or taking precautionary measures, structures will remain usable for longer.
Steel and concrete
The challenges of prolonging the service life of structures vary widely. The service life of steel structures is mainly determined by the number of vehicles that frequently load the structure. For concrete structures, it’s more a question of the load-bearing capacity under static and quasi-static loads. But in both cases, increased traffic in recent decades has had a negative impact on service life.
Weakening of concrete
Degradation of concrete poses a threat to its reinforcement. After 70 years, more than half of structures have corrosion damage. It’s essential to prevent or repair this kind of damage in order to continue to ensure structural safety.