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Reinforced concrete is a combination of reinforcement and concrete and finds application in various types of construction works. Reinforced concrete is an important material often preferred during steel construction mainly due to its versatility, adaptability, and resistance to fire and corrosion resulting in negligible maintenance costs.

Development of better-quality cement has resulted in better concrete strength and durable concrete for use in different types of structures. Reinforced concrete is being used for the construction of foundations to the rooftops of buildings, in the construction of highways roads traffic, precast structures, floating structures, and hydro-power tunnels, irrigation canals, drains, and all other conceivable structures.

Applications of Reinforced Concrete

1. Buildings

Buildings consist of beams, columns, walls, floors, and roofs. Reinforced concrete is ideally suited for the construction of floor, roof slabs, columns and beams in residential and commercial structures. Reinforced concrete grid floors comprising beams and slabs are widely used for covering large areas like conference halls where column-free space is an essential requirement.

It proves to be cost-effective, durable, fireproof, and reliable construction material. The versatility of concrete is another crucial characteristic through which an architectural effect can be achieved that cannot be obtained using other construction materials.

Multistory reinforced concrete buildings are routinely adopted for both residential and office complexes. For heavy-duty floors in factories, RCC is ideally suited due to its resistance to wear and tear and improved durability.

Reinforced Concrete Buildings
Fig. 1: Reinforced Concrete Buildings

2. Bridges

The present trend is to adopt reinforced concrete for bridges of small, medium and long spans resulting in aesthetically superior and economical structures in comparison with steel bridges. Due to the development of modern concrete, the desired properties of concrete such as concrete strength and durability can be achieved for any type of construction.

Bridge Built Using Reinforced Concrete
Fig. 2: Bridge Built Using Reinforced Concrete

3. Roads

Reinforced concrete is used in the construction of roads that is designed to carry heavy traffics. Airplane runway and flying-boat slipway are examples of high-class high-duty roads in which reinforced concrete is used.

Reinforced Concrete Used to Construct Roads
Fig. 3: Reinforced Concrete Used to Construct Roads

4. Floating Structures

Reinforced concrete may not be superior construction material for floating structures, but there are a number of projects in which the use of reinforced concrete obtained great success. Reinforced concrete caissons and floating docks are examples of floating structures.

Mulberry Harbour Caissons ( Floating Structure) Constructed Using Reinforced Concrete
Fig. 4: Mulberry Harbour Caissons ( Floating Structure) Constructed Using Reinforced Concrete

5. Foundations

Reinforced concrete is used in the construction of almost all types of foundations such as piles and rafts. Reinforced concrete piles, both precast and cast-in-situ have been in used for foundations of structures of different types like bridges and buildings.

Reinforced Concrete Raft Foundation
Fig. 5: Reinforced Concrete Raft Foundation

6. Marine Structure

Reinforced concrete is also used in the construction of marine structures such as wharfs, quay walls, watchtowers and lighthouses in coastal areas where corrosion is imminent, but there are certain types of concrete which can resist such aggressive environment. It is recommended to use reinforced concrete trusses for warehouses in coastal areas.

Construction of Wharf using Reinforced Concrete
Fig. 7: Construction of Wharf using Reinforced Concrete

7. Pipes and Conduits

Pipes and conduits have been constructed from reinforced concrete and such pipes are used in several applications, for instance, in the construction of sewage systems. Nonetheless, it should be known that reinforced concrete pipes are not serviceable when pressure exceeds 91.5-meter water head unless cylindrical steel sheathe is embedded into reinforced concrete pipes with special jointing devices.

8. Precast Works

Precast concrete is the line of reinforced concrete development which its application increased greatly in recent years. Precast concrete is used to construct different types of structures and various structural elements and portion of structures. Examples of precast concrete are columns, beams, slabs, pipes, fence posts, lamp standards, manholes, gully units etc…

9. Others

Typical use of reinforced concrete in earth retaining structures includes abutments for bridges and retaining walls for earthen embankments. Reinforced concrete is ideally suited for water retaining structures like ground and overhead tanks and hydraulic structures like gravity and arch dams. The material is widely used for the construction of large domes for water tanks and sports stadiums and conference halls.

Reinforced concrete poles have almost replaced steel poles for power transmissions. Tall towers for TV transmission are invariably constructed using reinforced concrete.

For aircraft hangers, RCC shells comprising of thin circular slabs and deep edge beams provide an economical solution. Reinforced concrete folded plate construction has been used for industrial structures where large column-free space is required under the roof.

Read More: Measures to Increase Ductility of Reinforced Concrete Structural Members

About Madeh Izat HamakareemVerified

Madeh is a Structural Engineer who works as Assistant Lecturer in Koya University. He is the author, editor and partner at theconstructor.org.