PoreShield Surface Application Extends Life of Bridges
Location: Six bridges in and around Peru, Ind.
Date: June 2020
Application Type: Surface application to existing bridges
Applicators: Wabash County Highway Department
In June 2020, the Wabash County Highway Department in Indiana applied new PoreShield™ (SME-PS) concrete durability enhancer to the surfaces of six bridges in Wabash County, near Peru, Ind.
Based on typical application timelines, the department had expected these applications to take at least two days. However, the application process was completed faster than expected, with four bridges treated before noon on June 8. The remaining two bridges were completed on a later date.
When applied to highways, PoreShield is typically used to treat pavement joints only, filling concrete pores around the joints to enhance the durability of this critical area. Bridges, on the other hand, receive a full surface application to protect not only the concrete surface but also the steel inside. While it might be harder for the likes of ice and salt to damage bridges, thanks to the denser concrete used, damage that does occur is greater and more expensive on bridges than paved roads.
“It’s going to be a long-term positive for the budget,” Cole Wyatt, Wabash County highway superintendent, said. “It will make the infrastructure last longer and it justifies the cost. When we apply for grants, the investment in this product shows we are maintaining our current assets, so we will see more than a return on investment through the grant process.”
Paul Imbrock of Environmental Concrete Products, who helped develop PoreShield, further explained, “Benefits of PoreShield come with a marginal investment, compared with the expenses associated with premature damage or failure it prevents. PoreShield will make these structures last five-to-nine times longer. It will also reduce maintenance costs over time, making these bridges much easier to clean, much more durable to freezing water and salt, ultimately reducing overall maintenance cost.”
PoreShield might be new to Wyatt and the Wabash County Highway Department, but the product has been on roadways for nearly a decade.
Not only was the application process quick, but it was safe for the applicators.
“The biggest surprise was probably the environmental friendliness of [PoreShield],” Wyatt said. “You don’t have to worry about inhaling noxious chemicals all day; you’re not dealing with burns or anything of that nature. The fact that we can come out here, if we get a little on us and we catch some vapors, it’s not harmful. That’s a huge benefit.” No PPE is required for application and clean-up is quick and easy since there is no hazardous material involved. Because it is uniquely friendly to the environment, it can be applied over a body of water without contamination concerns, which is ideal for bridge applications.
Wabash County does not have an existing protocol for enhancing the durability of bridges, but after seeing how easy the PoreShield application was, Wyatt plans to establish a protocol for treating a handful of bridges each year. His goal is to have them all treated with PoreShield within four or five years. This practice will add years to the life of critical infrastructure, for less than 0.1% of the cost to replace the structure.
To provide some perspective on the economic benefits of PoreShield, one 25,000 ft2 bridge can be treated in one hour with approximately 140 gallons PoreShield and it will protect the concrete for over 10 years. The cost savings over the life of the concrete, from application to lower maintenance, cannot be matched when compared to other existing methods or even untreated.
The Wabash County Highway Department was one of seven Indiana counties that participated in the Indiana Soybean Alliance Infrastructure Preservation Program, which helps organizations and departments use this new technology to protect over 300,000 ft2 of infrastructure like these bridge decks.