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Environmentally Acceptable Materials for the Corrosion Protection of Steel Bridges
  • Published Date:
    1997-01-01
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-59.27 MB]


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Environmentally Acceptable Materials for the Corrosion Protection of Steel Bridges
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  • Publication/ Report Number:
    FHWA-RD-96-058
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  • Abstract:
    The recently promulgated environmental regulations concerning volatile organic compounds (VOC) and certain hazardous heavy metals have had a great impact on the bridge painting industry. As a response to these regulations, many of the major coating manufacturers now offer "environmentally acceptable" alternative coating systems to replace those traditionally used on bridge structures. The Federal Highway Administration sponsored a 7-year study to determine the relative corrosion control performance of these newly available coating systems. A battery of accelerated laboratory tests were performed on candidate coating materials with a maximum VOC content of 340 g/L (2.8 lb/gal). Accelerated tests included cyclic salt fog/natural marine exposure, cyclic brine immersion/natural marine exposure, and natural marine exposure testing. Natural exposure test panels were exposed and evaluated for a total of 6.5 years. The most promising coating systems were selected for long-term field evaluation based on accelerated test performance. The long-term exposure testing was conducted for 5 years in three marine locations. Panels were exposed on two bridges, one in New Jersey and one in southern Louisiana. The third long-term exposure location was in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. Thirteen coating systems were included for long-term exposure testing. These included 2 high-VOC controls and 11 test systems having a VOC level of 340 g/L (2.8 lb/gal) or less. Five of the test systems contained high-solids primers, two of the test systems contained waterborne primers, one system was based on a powder coating, and three systems were metallizing. The best performing systems were the three metallized coatings. These were initially less aesthetic than coating systems with high-gloss topcoats, but they displayed near-perfect corrosion performance after 5- to 6.5-year exposure periods. Of the traditional liquid applied coating systems, those incorporating inorganic zinc primers performed the best over near-white blasted and power-tool cleaned surfaces. High-solids epoxy coatings had a tendency to undercut at intentional scribes and rust worse than coatings with zinc-rich primers over less than ideal surface preparations. Current bridge painting methodologies and corrosiveness of various bridge substructures were investigated. Various bridge maintenance painting options were evaluated on a life-cycle cost basis using data developed in the program. The analysis points to the potential advantages of long-term durable coatings such as metallizing and alternative painting practices such as zone painting.

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