Degradation of Concrete Structures in Nuclear Power Plants: A Review of the Major Causes and Possible Preventive Measures

Pathath Abdul Rasheed, Sunitha K. Nayar, Imad Barsoum, Akram Alfantazi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Concrete, an integral part of a nuclear power plant (NPP), experiences degradation during their operational lifetime of the plant. In this review, the major causes of concrete degradation are extensively discussed including mechanisms that are specific to NPPs. The damage mechanism could be chemical or physical. The major causes of chemical degradation include alkali–aggregate reactions, leaching, sulfate attack, bases and acids attack, and carbonation. Physical degradation is a consequence of both environmental and mechanical factors combined. These factors are mainly elevated temperature, radiation, abrasion and erosion, salt crystallization, freeze–thaw distortions, fatigue and vibration. Additionally, steel reinforcements, prestressing steels, liner plates, and structural steel also experience degradation. The prospective areas in the structural components of the NPP where the degradation could occur are mentioned and the effective solutions to the causes of degradation are highlighted. These solutions are designed to enhance the physical and chemical characteristics of concrete. Some of the major recommendations include addition of mineral substitutes, use of low water-to-cement ratio as well as low water-to-binder ratio, use of low alkali cement, use of special aggregates and fibers, use of corrosion inhibitors, use of cathodic protection, etc. The review concludes with an overview of present methods and possible recommendations used to enhance the quality of concrete towards preventing concrete degradation and increasing the lifetime of NPPs.

Original languageBritish English
Article number8011
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • alkali-silica reaction
  • carbonation
  • chemical attack
  • concrete
  • degradation
  • mineral admixture
  • nuclear power plants
  • physical attack
  • reinforcement structures
  • water-to-cement ratio


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