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Concrete Durability Course

Next class: To be announced.


For a list of NRMCA's other certification programs, click here.

Why should you attend: This 2½ day course will cover the fundamental mechanisms that impact durability of concrete. Recognize symptoms and learn about methods to evaluate deterioration of concrete; understand causes of durability problems and methods to prevent them; test methods for durability and their limitations; and code and specification criteria for durable concrete structures.

Topics will cover the concrete microstructure, cracking, corrosion mechanisms, freeze-thaw resistance, sulfate resistance, alkali aggregate reactions (AAR), and other durability-related distress.

The course will be taught by instructors who are on the forefront of current research and diagnosis of concrete durability.

The course will conclude with an exam. Persons who have obtained the NRMCA Concrete Technologist Level 3 certification at the NRMCA technical short course will qualify for NRMCA Concrete Technologist Level 4 certification on successful completion of this exam.

Jump to Instructors

Proposed Course Syllabus


Day 1 – Morning Session (8:30 a.m. – noon)

1.Concrete Gone Wild
In this interactive section students will be shown a wide range of concrete durability problems and will be asked to identify the cause(s) of deterioration. Examples will be given where improper design and specification, inferior quality materials, inappropriate proportioning, and poor construction practices have contributed to the deterioration.

2. The Nature of Concrete I: Hydration, pore structure and permeability
This session will start with an introduction to cement hydration and the development of pore structure. This will include a discussion on the properties and reactions of supplementary cementing materials (SCM’s). These concepts will be used to explain the role of W/CM and SCM’s on concrete permeability.

3. The Nature of Concrete II: Why Does it Crack?
Concrete cracks! Causes of cracking (autogenous, thermal, shrinkage) and methods for controlling and minimizing cracking will be discussed. Students will be introduced to a user-friendly model (ConcreteWorks) for predicting temperature profiles and the risk of cracking in concrete elements.

Day 1 – Afternoon Session (1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

4. Chlorides, Carbonation & Corrosion
The session will include an introduction to steel corrosion and how concrete protects reinforcing steel. The role of chloride ions and carbonation in initiating the corrosion process will be explained. Methods for measuring chloride ingress (including ASTM tests for diffusion and “chloride permeability”) and carbonation will be discussed.

5. Corrosion Protection Strategies
This session will cover various corrosion protection strategies including the use of low-permeability concrete (role of low W/CM and SCM), corrosion inhibitors, and corrosion-resistant reinforcement.

6. Service-Life Prediction: Life-365 and Beyond
Students will be introduced to the service-life model Life-365 and be given a hands-on demonstration of its use. Other models will also be briefly described.

7. Case History & Homework
Students will work in groups and will be set an assignment to design a corrosion-protection strategy for a reinforced concrete structure using Life-365. Groups will make brief presentations to the class after lunch on the second day.

Day 2 – Morning Session (8:30 a.m. – noon)

8. Alkali-Aggregate Reaction (AAR)
The symptoms and mechanisms of AAR will be discussed. Although the presentation will focus on alkali-silica reaction (ASR), students will also be introduced to alkali-carbonate reaction (ACR). Methods of test including the shortcomings of the different test methods will be discussed. The presentation will also include a discussion on methods of prevention (including case histories) and both prescriptive and performance-based specifications.

9. Sulfate-Related Durability Problems
The presentation will begin with an explanation of the role of sulfates in normal cement hydration. “Classic sulfate attack” due to deleterious chemical reactions that occur when concrete is exposed to an external source of sulfates will be discussed together with test methods, methods of improving sulfate resistance and code requirements. The presentation will also include a discussion of other forms of deterioration involving sulfate compounds including physical sulfate attack, heat-induced delayed ettringite formation (DEF) and the thaumasite form of sulfate attack. A number of case histories will be presented.

10. Other Forms of Concrete Deterioration
This presentation will cover abrasion, erosion, chemical and acid attack, and measures for protecting concrete from aggressive environments.

Day 2 – Afternoon Session (1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

11. Group Presentations on Corrosion Protection Strategies
Each group will make a brief presentation on the corrosion protection strategy it designed in response to the problem assigned at the end of the first day.

12. Freeze-Thaw and Salt Scaling
This presentation will cover the mechanisms of deterioration due to cyclic freezing and thawing, and deicer-salt scaling, the role of air entrainment, test methods and methods for ensuring frost-resistant concrete. Problems associated with alternative deicing chemicals (e.g. magnesium chloride) and anti-icing chemicals (e.g. potassium acetate) will also be discussed.

13. Specifications Related to Durability
This presentation will be made by NRMCA staff.

14. Taming the Wild
This final interactive presentation will follow on from where the first presentation left off. Examples will be given of concrete durability problems and students will be asked to apply what they have learned and identify what should have been done to prevent the problem from occurring.

Course Instructors

Michael Thomas, Ph.D., P.Eng., is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and a registered Professional Engineer in the province of New Brunswick. He has been working in the field of cement and concrete research since 1983. Prior to joining UNB in 2002 he had been on faculty at the University of Toronto since 1994 and previous to this he worked as concrete materials engineer with Ontario Hydro in Canada and as a research fellow with the Building Research Establishment in the UK.

Dr. Thomas’s main research interests are concrete durability and the use of industrial by-products including pozzolans and slag. His studies on durability have included alkali-silica reaction, delayed ettringite formation, sulfate attack, deicer-salt scaling, carbonation, chloride ingress and embedded steel corrosion. He is also active in the area of service-life modeling, and in the repair and maintenance of concrete structures. He has authored more than 100 technical papers and reports on these subjects, and is a co-author of the service-life model, Life-365.

Dr. Thomas is active on technical committees within the American Concrete Institute (ACI), ASTM, RILEM, and the Canadian Standards Association. He was a recipient of the ACI’s Wason Medal for Materials Research in 1997, the ACI Construction Practice Award in 2001 and was elected to a Fellow of the Institute in 2006.

Kevin Folliard, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Austin Industries Endowed Faculty Fellow in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in September, 1999, Dr. Folliard was an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware, and previous to this, he worked for W.R. Grace & Co. in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a Research Associate Engineer. He was responsible for the research and development of various concrete admixtures. During his employment at W.R. Grace & Co., he received the prestigious Vision Award in 1996, as well as a Research Recognition Award in the same year.

Dr. Folliard received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His research was primarily on the durability of high-performance concrete, with special emphasis on frost resistance and sulfate attack. Dr. Folliard received his M.S. in Civil Engineering from Berkeley and his B.S. from Florida Institute of Technology.

He is a member of ACI Committees 229 Controlled Low-Strength Material, 236 Materials Science of Concrete, and 544 Fiber-Reinforced Concrete.  He is Chair of Committee 201 Durability of Concrete.  He was awarded the prestigious ACI Young Member Award for Professional Achievement in 2002 and was elected a Fellow of ACI in 2003.  He has developed and presented a range of workshops and training courses for the concrete industry, state highway departments, and private industry. 

NRMCA's Complete Educational Lineup | NRMCA Publications

This course supports earning a Certified Concrete Professional (CCPf) designation in the Concrete Technology career track.


When in the Washington DC Area...NRMCA facilities are easy to get to and close to good dining, entertainment and culture.




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