In this contribution, a finite element methodology devised to simulate the structural deterioration of corroded reinforced concrete members is presented. The proposed numerical strategy has the ability to reproduce many of the well-known (undesirable) mechanical effects induced by corrosion processes in the embedded steel bars, as for example: expansion of the reinforcements due to the corrosion product accumulation, damage and cracking patterns distribution in the surrounding concrete, degradation of steel–concrete bond stress transfer, net area reduction in the reinforcements and, mainly, the influence of all these mentioned mechanisms on the structural load carrying capacity predictions.
At the numerical level, each component of the RC structure is represented by means of a suitable FE formulation. For the concrete, a cohesive model based on the Continuum Strong Discontinuity Approach (CSDA) is used. Steel bars are modeled by means of an elasto-plastic constitutive relation. The interface is simulated using contact-friction elements, with the friction degradation as a function of the degree of corrosion attack. Two different (and coupled) mesoscopic analyzes are considered in order to describe the main physical phenomena that govern the problem: (i) an analysis at the cross section level and (ii) an analysis at the structural member level.
The resultant mechanical model can be used to simulate generalized reinforcement corrosion. Experimental and previous numerical results, obtained from the available literature, are used to validate the proposed strategy