Physical Characteristics

Steel has an expansion coefficient nearly equal to that of modern concrete. If this weren't so, it would cause problems through additional longitudinal and perpendicular stresses at temperatures different than the temperature of the setting.[2] Although rebar has ribs that bind it mechanically to the concrete, it can still be pulled out of the concrete under high stresses, an occurrence that often precedes a larger-scale collapse of the structure. To prevent such a failure, rebar is either deeply embedded into adjacent structural members (40-60 times the diameter), or bent and hooked at the ends to lock it around the concrete and other rebar. This first approach increases the friction locking the bar into place, while the second makes use of the high compressive strength of concrete.

Common rebar is made of unfinished tempered steel, making it susceptible to rusting. Normally the concrete cover is able to provide a pH value higher than 12 avoiding the corrosion reaction. Too little concrete cover can compromise this guard through carbonation from the surface. Too much concrete cover can cause bigger crack widths which also compromises the local guard. As rust takes up greater volume than the steel from which it was formed, it causes severe internal pressure on the surrounding concrete, leading to cracking, spalling, and ultimately, structural failure. This is a particular problem where the concrete is exposed to salt water, as in bridges built in areas where salt is applied to roadways in winter, or in marine applications. Epoxy-coated, galvanized or stainless steel rebars may be employed in these situations at greater initial expense, but significantly lower expense over the service life of the project. Especially epoxy-coated have to be installed with great care, because even small cracks and failures in the coating can lead to intensified local chemical reactions not visible at the surface.

Fiber-reinforced polymer rebar is now also being used in high-corrosion environments. It is available in many forms, from spirals for reinforcing columns, to the common rod, to meshes and many other forms. Most commercially available rebars are made from unidirectional glassfibre reinforced thermoset resins.

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