Reinforced concrete is one of the most widespread and important building materials in our society.

Everyone knows that this is a very durable and reliable material. However, few know the rigorous series of tests to which reinforced concrete must be subjected to protect it in particular from carbonation.

The carbonation chamber is the laboratory instrument that serves this purpose and we will delve into it in today's article.

What is Carbonation


But first of all: what is carbonation?

This is a natural process that can affect a wide range of materials, including concrete, mortar and stone. The phenomenon occurs when the carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the air reacts with the hydroxides present in the materials, forming carbonates.

The result is a reduction in the pH of the material, but depending on the context and the material, its effects can be considered positive or negative.

Let's see for example what happens to the various types of concrete.

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Carbonation in Reinforced Concrete


Although reinforced concrete is more resistant and generally preferable to simple concrete, carbonation is one of those cases that calls into question its preferability.

In fact, although the carbonation process also takes place in simple concrete, it does not cause significant damage to it and does not compromise the stability of the structure. Indeed, since it reduces the porosity of the conglomerate, it can even lead to an increase in resistance.

However, the situation is different for reinforced concrete.

The steel structure which, so to speak, "arms" the concrete is sensitive to carbonation which creates favorable conditions for the initiation of corrosion of the reinforcing bars.

For this reason, the carbonation test in a carbonation chamber is essential to guarantee the long-term durability of reinforced concrete works.

What is the Carbonation Test


The carbonation test is used to evaluate the degree of carbonation within a concrete sample.

The specifications of this test are outlined in ISO 1920-12:2015, an internationally recognized standard from ISO, the most important standardization body in the world.

Among the fundamental parameters that must be set and controlled to carry out the test we have the temperature, the relative humidity and the quantity of CO2.

To carry out this test it is therefore necessary to use a carbonation chamber.

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The FDM Carbonation Chamber


The carbonation chamber is a climatic chamber specifically designed to perform carbonation tests on concrete samples.

The climatic chamber is a laboratory instrument hermetically isolated from the outside, within which it is possible to alter, regulate and monitor a series of environmental parameters.

In this case the temperature, relative humidity and CO2 concentration, in order to simulate the carbonation process and test its effects on the sample.

The FDM climatic chambers all have a temperature and relative humidity controller and can be equipped with a CO2 controller to perform the carbonation test in accordance with ISO 1920-12:2015, as well as EN 12390-12 and EN 12390-10 .

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