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Posted 9/24/2010

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24 Sept. 2010, Vicksburg, Miss., and Champaign, Ill. — A team of ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) and Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) researchers was recently announced as a winner of the 48th Annual R&D 100 Award for “Corrosion-Resistant Vitreous Enamel Coating for Bonding Concrete to Steel” also known as COR-PROTEXTM.

The award, given by R&D Magazine to the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace during the past year, is open to industry, academia, and government. Recognized as the “Oscars of Innovation,” the award was created in 1963 and previous winners include the ATM, the halogen lamp, the fax machine, the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch, and high-definition television.

The ERDC team made up of Dr. Phil Malone and Dr. Chuck Weiss, GSL; Sean Morefield and Vince Hock, CERL, along with Michael Koenigstein, a collaborator from Pro Perma Engineered Coatings LLC, was honored for their revolutionary coating for rebar, a product that significantly extends the life of structural steel-reinforced concrete structures and increases bond strength.

A team of CERL researchers is also a past winner, having received the award in the 1980s for the ceramic anode.

“This is a novel and unique method of preventing corrosion of steel reinforcing used in concrete,” said Hock. “It is the world’s first application of a flexible ceramic coating applied to steel rebar that is impervious to corrosion caused by chloride intrusion in steel reinforced concrete structures.”

The product works by mixing enamel coating with the cement before it is combined with the steel. The process addresses the cracking created by the corrosion of steel, the most common cause of corrosion failure in steel-reinforced concrete, by reducing the tendency of steel to rust and corrode by at least 50 percent. It also increases the bond strength between the two materials by three to five times. These advancements result in longer material life and reduced maintenance costs. In addition, 30 percent less steel is required resulting in further cost savings.

“It’s kind of like putting glue on the flap of an envelope,” said Malone. “The pieces won’t stay together without that glue. In the same way, this product enables concrete and steel to stay together.”

The technology has already found its way into a variety of applications, including roads, buildings, beams, flooring, roofs, and masonry walls. The Missouri Department of Transportation is building multiple bridges with the new material with thoughts of higher levels of earthquake resistance and the Department of Energy is hoping to use the product in the building of new nuclear power plants.

“The success of this product’s technology overcomes a major failure issue with structures built with reinforced concrete,” said Morefield. “Prior to this, no simple solution existed for the nation’s multi-billion dollar corrosion problem with aging infrastructure.”

COR-PROTEXTM was also named as a winner of the 2010 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. A patent for the technology is pending.

The team will be presented with the R&D 100 Award at a black tie awards banquet to be held in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 11.