U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Overview | Projects



Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory


Purpose: The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory improves coating and corrosion test methods while gauging the durability and performance of innovative coating systems designed to prevent corrosion of steel bridges.

Description: Protective coating systems are evaluated with accelerated laboratory techniques and outdoor natural exposure conditions. Innovative testing procedures are developed for assessing corrosion and premature coating failures on steel bridges. The Coatings and Corrosion laboratory also assists State departments of transportation (DOTs) in solving bridge coating problems and determining suitable coating systems based on environmental conditions.

Special Capabilities: The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory performs the following activities.

  • Produces bridge coating performance data for DOTs.
  • Develops laboratory test methods to study the performance of various bridge coatings.
  • Develops forensic analytical techniques for identifying bridge coating type and determining causes of field coating failures.
  • Evaluates mechanical properties of coatings with various physical test methods.
  • Characterizes paint composition using wet chemistry methods, scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectroscopy, and other advanced analytical techniques.
  • Develops test protocol for determining chloride and other corrosive ions in grout samples for posttensioned cables.
  • Determines toxicities of bridge coatings and their disposal options.
  • Assesses the conditions of galvanized steel bars and determines soil corrosivity of metallically stabilized earth retaining wall.
  • Detects premature coating failures using microscopic, spectroscopic, and other techniques.
  • Determines chloride and other corrosive contaminants using ion chromatography, titration, and field deployable methods.
  • Investigates wetting properties of coating materials using contact angle measurement system.
  • Evaluates the accuracy and efficiency of both laboratory and field test methods for determining the level of contamination on steel bridges.
  • Determines corrosion rate using nondestructive electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS).
  • Performs American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) standard paint tests.


Services: The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory performs the following services.

  • Assists State DOTs in selecting durable coating systems in different environmental conditions.
  • Recommends testing techniques to State DOTs and industries for determination of coating failure.
  • Presents coating research to the Society for Protective Coatings conference, AASHTO/National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA)
  • Steel Bridge Collaboration meeting, and Transportation Research Board meeting.
  • Provides technical assistance to other research groups within Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.


Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101