With winter weather fading and summer beginning in the northern hemisphere, major roadway construction projects are now underway. These projects, critical to the safety of motorists, are extremely labor and cost intensive. As a result, new construction methods are continually being developed to ensure long-term stability and safety. Cathodic protection, for example, is an electrochemical process that helps protect the steel reinforcements in concrete from corrosion, thus extending the life of roadway structures such as bridges or highway overpasses. Agilent LXI components provide the critical ability to verify and monitor the efficiency of the cathodic protection method, ensuring the longevity and safety of roadway construction projects.
Modern concrete mixtures, which are highly alkaline in nature, generally provide a solid and long-lasting substance that protects steel reinforcements from corrosion. However, substances such as deicing salt used in colder climates over long periods of time cause chloride to permeate the concrete and weaken its alkalinity. When it reaches the steel reinforcements, corrosion occurs and ultimately the concrete looses its stability.
The conventional method of repair is to remove and replace the chloride affected material before it reaches or weakens the steel reinforcements -- a very expensive measure. With cathodic protection, an electrical field is applied to the concrete structure with the steel reinforcement being used as the cathode. The resulting current flows from the anode to the steel reinforcement, making it impossible for any current to flow in the opposite direction and effectively protecting the steel from corrosion.
Critical to this method is the ability to measure the system throughout its deployment - from first installation, through the power-up phase and ultimately ongoing to ensure continued system efficiency.
Agilent's LXI components provide the capabilities needed for such measurements of cathodic protection systems with its Agilent N6700 Modular Power System, 34980A Switch/Measure Unit, 34411A digital multimeter and L4400 series switch modules. In addition, these LXI components provide the ability to remotely manage such measurement and monitoring. This distributed, off-site capability makes Agilent's LXI components a good solution for measuring and monitoring the cathodic protection method.