The corrosion of reinforced steel, and subsequent reinforced concrete degradation, is a major concern for infrastructure durability. New materials with specific, tailor-made properties or the establishment of optimum construction regimes are among the many approaches to improving civil structure performance. Ideally, novel materials would carry self-repairing or self-healing capacities, triggered in the event of detrimental influence and/or damage. Controlling or altering a material’s behavior at the nano-level would result in traditional materials with radically enhanced properties. Nevertheless, nanotechnology applications are still rare in construction, and would break new ground in engineering practice. An approach to controlling the corrosion-related degradation of reinforced concrete was designed as a synergetic action of electrochemistry, cement chemistry and nanotechnology. This contribution presents the concept of the approach, namely to simultaneously achieve steel corrosion resistance and improved bulk matrix properties. The technical background and challenges for the application of polymeric nanomaterials in the field are briefly outlined in view of this concept, which has the added value of self-healing. The credibility of the approach is discussed with reference to previously reported outcomes, and is illustrated via the results of the steel electrochemical responses and microscopic evaluations of the discussed materials.
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