Microwave Reflection and Dielectric Properties of Mortar Subjected to Compression Force and Cyclically Exposed to Water and Sodium Chloride Solution
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Corrosion of the reinforcing steel is a major cause of damage and deterioration in reinforced concrete structures such as concrete bridge decks and columns. Chloride intrusion into concrete can lead to depassivation of the steel and initiation of corrosion. Thus, it is very important to be able to nondestructively detect and evaluate the free chloride content in concrete. Near-field microwave nondestructive testing techniques, using open-ended rectangular waveguide probes, have shown great potential for evaluating various properties of concrete, including the successful detection of sodium chloride added to mortar mixing water. In this study, several mortar samples are cyclically soaked in distilled and salt water while also experiencing compression force. Compression force, simulating in-service loading, causes microcracking, which results in increased microcracking and permeability, promoting chloride ingress. The daily microwave reflection and dielectric properties of these samples were measured at 3 GHz. The results show the capability of these microwave measurements for detecting the increased level of chloride permeation and loading as a function of the increasing number of soaking cycles. The influence of salt ingress is shown to be more prominent in the loss factor, while the effect of loading is more evident in the permittivity of the samples.