Conventional corrosion is an electrochemical redox reaction, thus when steel is in contact with an electrolyte and oxygen, then steel mass will be lost, this is more pronounce in sea water. Corrosion, compared to time is generally a linear process and is uniformly spread over the exposed area.
Table 1. Recommended value for the loss of thickness (mm) due to corrosion for piles and sheet piles in fresh water or in sea water
On the basis of this table the common method utilised in accounting for corrosion is to utilise a sacrificial thickness by increasing the thickness of the pile by at least 4mm.
However, for construction in the Arabian gulf this method may not be the optimal solution due to the climatic and seawater conditions. The gulf coastline experiences some of the most extreme weather conditions with summer temperature reaching up to mid to high forties, with the salinity of the Gulf generally being highly variable with some sections near the coast reaching a concentration of 10 % (Fookes et al). In general, the salinity of the Gulf, at 4 %, is also higher than the open ocean, at 3 %.
The sacrificial thickness specification for a pile in sea water in zone of high attack is 3.75 mm, which means that a corrosion rate of 0.075 mm/year is adopted. However, according to research presented in CIRIA C634 that is the minimum rate of corrosion reported. The average corrosion rates reported range from 0.08 to 0.2 mm/side/year. For the harsh aggressive environment of the Arabian Gulf compounded with high and variable salinity of sea water, with the high temperatures a higher corrosion rate in design is recommended for optimal durability. The highest corrosion rates range from 0.17 to 0.34 mm/side/year. For a worst-case scenario, the highest corrosion rate will see a loss of 17 mm of steel, and if a sacrificial thickness of 4 mm is utilised, it will only protect the integrity of the member for 12 years.
Table 2. Corrosion Rates found in Literature